The Treasury Monument in Petra has always been a mystery. No one was sure when the monument was built, nor exactly what its purpose was, although we present an argument on this website that it was the city library. Secondly, since the bottom of the monument was damaged by repeated flooding in the last millennium, the plaza in front of the Treasury has been covered with tons of debris. Some of us have often wondered what was below all that material. Then in 2004 the Jordanian Ministry of Antiquities start an excavation of the Plaza area in front of the Treasury Monument. The excavation was carried out by two archeologists, Suleiman Farajat and Sami Al-Nawafleh. In December 2004 they presented a paper on their dig at the “Second International Conference on Science and Technology in Archaeology and Conservation”. Their paper was published in the May to December 2004 Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.
When you see the Treasury, it looks like it is at ground level. You can walk right up to it. Upon closer inspection you can see that the front of the Treasury was damaged and that it has been repaired sometime back in history. If the plaza is far below the surface then the Treasury would have been high up on the side of the cliff.
The best way to estimate the level of the plaza floor, is to look at the tombs that are on your right as you exit the siq. At this point, most people are looking at the Treasury, and they fail to lookto the right. there beside them is the ‘top’ of a djinn rock, and just behind it is the ‘top’ of a tomb peeking out of the ground. This tomb has recently been excavated and then covered over.
Also, the excavation of the rooms or tombs below the Treasury have also been covered over. However, thanks to Andrew Johnson, who snapped these photos in October 2003, we can see what was discovered.
When Petra was first discovered by Johannes L. Burckhardt in 1812, there was a stream running through the siq and in front of the Treasury monument. This stream can be seen in many old paintings. The dam in front of the siq was repaired in the 1960’s so that the water flowed through an ancient tunnel and away from the center of Petra. The area in front of the Treasury was leveled to make it easier for tourists. During the last couple of years there has been an ongoing effort to clean up the siq and restore some of the Roman road as well as other sites within the siq.