Tip #470: A Visit to Petra

“We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors’ wisdom.” Maya Angelou

Ahmed (sp?) arrived right at 8:30 am. to take me to Petra. A very sweet young man, the only drawback was that he spoke very very little English! However, as we drove the 3 hours to Petra, we certainly attempted to communicate. He would point out camels (he slowed down so I could take some photos- but I missed a photo of a baby camel drinking from its mother, sorry)- mosques and schools (apparently, the words for both are very similar, with just a different vowel the very end of the words), etc.

I have to admit that I dozed on and off on the way (4 hours of sleep the night before will do that..)

At Petra, I bought a hat with a brim (deciding it would be wiser than a scarf). We paid for my entrance to Petra (50 JD).  Then I paid for a guide (another 50 JD). Radwan spoke excellent English and had a wonderful sense of humor, as well as a wealth of historical, cultural and religious information about everything along the way.

Petra consists of magnificent natural sandstone formations, carved out by water over the centuries. It is awe-inspiring both in its beauty and in the history of cultures that it presents.

Four different cultures carved out tombs, homes, gods, and temples out of the sandstone at Petra (which is the word for rock- you probably knew this). Radwan pointed out their differences in design and construction. The earliest were created by the Nabataeans, who left many tombs as well as homes and an actually city center. There are Greek and Roman and Egyptian influences.

Three of the photos I took were pretty representative of my Petra experience. The first was Al-Khasneh, which means The Treasury, which was reputed to hold the hidden treasure of the Pharaoh in the urn at the top.  Radwan pointed out the bullet holes near it, where people tried to shoot it open.

The second was Ed Deir, of the Monastery, where Christian monks lived at one time!

The third picture was of the camels and donkeys walking all around me as people took rides to and from the major sites.

Fascinating facts:  There is  a very long water “pipe” through the caverns bringing water to the living locations within Petra, which proves that the Nabataeans were very sophisticated and technologically advanced.

There are holes above each of the Nabataean gods for hanging sacrifices.

The Swiss were involved for many years with excavations and putting down some surface to walk on where the sandstone blocks of road washed or eroded away.

Two years ago, a lot more of the city center buildings were excavated. Work goes on here all the time, now primarily by Americans.

There is only one standing edifice that was not carved from the rock, because it has timber (Juniper, apparently a very hard wood) beams. That is a large temple in the middle of the city center.

Radwan pointed out the artisanship and mastery of the sandstone carvers, because one slip and the entire carving would be ruined.

May your learning be sweet.

Deborah

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