Every great adventure should start with the unexpected discovery of a hidden passage on a long forgotten trail. Action music also helps 🙂 ….. clic this and continue.. ( or not )
Petra is just like that. Petra was re-discovered by western civilization in 1812… who lost it remains unknown. Indiana Jones is credited with reintroducing Petra again to movie fans in “The Last Crusade”. The Bedouins think this is all rather entertaining, they always knew where it was..:) The city is estimated to have been established in the 6th century BC by the Nabataeans. The city is notably listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a World Heritage Site.
I offer no apology for the length of this post.
Before you enter the city proper, you are teased by this carving. The actual city is still a good walk away.
Before you can enter the city you must navigate a long narrow canyon called a Siq. It’s entirely fitting, adding drama with every step.
A quote by the BBC referred to Petra as “a city half as old as time”. A few steps into the Siq and you had the sensation of stepping back in time.
The sunlight reflecting through the canyon exposed incredible color, texture and detail.
Psalm 19:1 “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.”
If the Heaven’s declare his handiwork, His valleys, carved by His hands celebrate creation.
After a mile walk through one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, you catch first sight of the city. Petra: Rock
Khazneh: The Treasury
The number one question I have been asked about the treasury: ” is the room inside just like it looks in the last crusade?” The answer…no. We have all been duped by hollywood again. The room is a large empty space. There are two very impressive carved buildings in Petra. This one and at the other end of town and up the mountain, The High Temple, also called the Monastery. I don’t think that is by accident. The two main things people worship, God or gods and money. It’s very clear that ornate banks is not a modern idea and as we saw in Germany, ornate churches have been around for a long time. Maybe people feel safer trusting their money to people in fancy buildings. Maybe some people feel closer to God in a fancy building. Manufactured validation and security. I think both assumptions are very dangerous.
At one time the cash flowed freely in Petra. This is where they kept it. History documents that Petra was an important stop on a vital trade route. The Nabataean’s had harnessed the power and storage of water and created a monopoly of sorts. Caravans would stop for water, supplies and various and sundry goods and services. In part, a truck stop oasis with a little Las Vegas style entertainment thrown in.
Not unlike the city square in Mainz, Germany, Petra had a town center.
Complete with a Roman style amphitheater.
A great earthquake leveled portions of the city in 363 AD damaging the water system and many buildings. Petra’s decline accelerated under Roman rule due in part to increasing sea trade routes.
Some of the man made structures remain partially standing after the earthquake.
At the far end of town, the trail leads up the mountain to the high Temple.
At this point I had a decision to make. I could hike up the trail or ride a donkey. My pride clearly said hike it. But the memory of the hike up Sinai was alive and well in my calves. Ron V. ( our faithful guide ) was convinced the donkey would throw me to my death and said so.
As I watched my hiking buddies head up the trail, I got on a donkey. I knew instantly I had made a good decision for me. I was having fun immediately.
Mark Beeson took this picture. This may have the first and only time I was in front ! 🙂
The High Temple aka The Monastery ( “Ad-Deir” ).
The building was dedicated in the first century to Obodas I ( a deified former king ) and is believed to have been used as a symposium. Basically a place to hangout, drink to much and talk philosophy. There are hints that pagan idol worship and all types of perversions were also entertained here. There is not a lot of documentation about the people of Petra. They had no written language.
Around the fourth century, Christianity came to Petra. It had a church and a bishop named Aterius.
These guys are hiking machines and great traveling companions !
From this vantage point and in this general direction is Mount Hor, the resting place of Moses’s brother Aaron. The Israelites stopped here and mourned Aaron for 30 days. For me, sometimes historical icons like Moses take on a kind of non-humanity. This being Aaron’s burial site stripped away a bit of that for me. Moses was a great man of God, but he was a man, he had a brother a couple wives and a couple kids, Gershom and Eliezer. Aaron was their uncle. To us Moses can become a biblical character, almost like an actor in a movie, but he was a flawed man just like the rest of us.
One account says he made a serious mistake here at Petra, at least according to Arab tradition. He directly disobeyed God and struck a rock with the rod instead of speaking to the rock as God had instructed him. As a result, neither Moses or Aaron were able to enter the promised land.
Everything has consequences.
If you go up the mountain, you must go down.
At the time when the city was in full swing and enjoying their height of prosperity, you can be sure they thought they were building the greatest city in the world. There was evidence everywhere of a sudden stop to the forward momentum. Stairways climbing to nowhere, half done facades.
The crowds roll in. It was a little easier to imagine what the city would have looked like in it’s “hay day” with thousands of tourists wandering around.
It would have been great fun to leave Petra on a spirited horse, like Indy.. or a Camel. Maybe next time… Now.. back to the future..