Petra: Lost City of Stone

“From the Petra Scrolls we learn that the city of Petra was known as the Mother of All Settlements.” Watch this excellent video to discover why Petra aptly deserved this name. It is an amazing place to visit, but it is even more facinating if you can begin to grasp what made it such a great place.” Dan Gibson

Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.

Established possibly as early as 312 BCE as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate Prize-winning poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Petra was named amongst the New7Wonders of the World in 2007 and was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”.

Some of the earliest recorded farmers settled in Beidha, a pre-pottery settlement just north of Petra, by 7000 BCE. Petra is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. Stations 19 through 26 of the stations list of Exodus are places associated with Petra.

Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews iv. 7, 1 ~ 4, 7), Eusebius and Jerome (Onom. sacr. 286, 71. 145, 9; 228, 55. 287, 94) assert that Rekem was the native name, and this name appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls [15] as a prominent Edomite site most closely describing Petra, and associated with Mount Seir. In the Aramaic versions, Rekem is the name of Kadesh, implying that Josephus may have confused the two places. The Semitic name of the city, if not Sela, remains unknown. The passage in Diodorus Siculus which describes the expeditions which Antigonus sent against the Nabataeans in 312 BCE is understood to throw some light upon the history of Petra, but the “petra” referred to as a natural fortress and place of refuge can not be a proper name and the description implies that the town was not yet in existence. The Rekem Inscription before it was buried by the bridge abutments.

Petra was named amongst the New7Wonders of the World in 2007 and was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”.

Some of the earliest recorded farmers settled in Beidha, a pre-pottery settlement just north of Petra, by 7000 BCE. Petra is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. Stations 19 through 26 of the stations list of Exodus are places associated with Petra. 94– 97) which describes the expeditions which Antigonus sent against the Nabataeans in 312 BCE is understood to throw some light upon the history of Petra, but the “petra” referred to as a natural fortress and place of refuge can not be a proper name and the description implies that the town was not yet in existence.

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