The Alchemist returns from his hibernation(which lasted nearly 6 months) with this piece on Petra…
A city famously described as “a rose red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate prize winning sonnet by John William Burgaon . UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.
On the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataean empire of king Aretas IV [9 BC to 40 AD]. Petra is an archaeological site in the Arabah, Ma’an Governorate, Jordan, lying on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah , the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Aquaba. The Nabataeans constructed it as their capital around 100 BCE but reached heights in the reign of King Aretas IV.
It was the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that lead to the rise of the desert city, in effect creating an artificial oasis. they provided city with great tunnel construction and water chambers.
The impressive eastern entrance leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge called the “Siq”, a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks. At the end of narrow gorge stands Petra’s most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh (known as ” The Treasury”) ,hewn into the sandstone cliff.
A little further from Treasury at the foot of the mountains called en-Nejr is a massive theatre. Theatre is modelled on Greek – Roman prototypes ,had space for an audience of 4000.
Today, the Palace Tombs of Petra with the 42 metre high Hellenistic temple facade on the El- Deir Monastery, an impressive examples of Middle Eastern Culture.
Petra declined rapidly under Roman rule, in large part due to the revision of sea- based trade routes.
The ruins of Petra were always an object of curiousity. The site remained unknown to the western world until 1812, when it was introduced to the west by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
On December 6 1985, Petra was designated a world heritage site. On July 7 2007, Petra was named one of New Open World Corporation’s “New Seven Wonders of the World.”