Petra 2011


View Petra in a larger map

 

March 2011

 

The kind invitation of the International Umm Al-Biyara Project (IUBP), a project directed by Stephan G. Schmid (Humbold-University of Berlin) and Piotr Bienkowski (Manchester), in collaboration between the Association for the Understanding of Ancient Cultures (AUAC) and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan led to a recent visit of Petra the famous antique rock carved city. It is an amazing place for people who are interested in the development of civilization in general (keyword ‘fertile crescent’) and for the special region of Petra and the Jordan valley.

  • Al Beidha

First settlements in Petra date back to the Iron Age. These Edomites used the strategic places of hill tops for building solid houses made of stone. Traces of accommodations are still visible as well as carved and plastered cisterns and channels in a typical bell shape (see the photo album).

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The project established two excavations for this spring champagne. One was situated just next to one of the Edomite settlements at the top of Umm Al-Biyara. The second continued a research which started already nearly 20 years ago at Az-Zantur right in the Petra valley centre. For more detailed information just check their website.

  • Adventure tour

Az-Zantur


However, the city is not only an archive of past societies. The caves are still vibrant:

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Little Petra and Al Beidha

 

The small but not younger sister of Petra is the so called Little Petra area. Although it contains of only a few grave complexes from the Nabataeans one can find there well hidden treasures e.g. the only preserved fresco of whole Petra, the biggest cistern in the area – still working and a wonderful silent (because of less tourists) and green landscape.

The latter fact is also a hint why the whole area belongs to the Fertile Crescent, a launch pad for the so called Neolithic Revolution. Very first settlements of human kind can be found (next to others) along the Jordan Valley stretching from the Sea of Galilee to the Red Sea at Aqaba. One of these settlements is only 8 km north of Petra – the Neolithic Al Beidha.

The site is amazingly well preserved since houses were made of stone. For this reason, they share some similarity with the famous Neolithic site Skara Brae at the Orkney Islands. Since both sites date to the Neolithic period Al-Beidha is nearly twice as old as Skara Brae!

Since Al-Beidha dates to the Pre-Pottery-Period no ceramic objects can be found. However, one can still admire original grinding stones in situ or discover post holes inside the walls supposed for supporting a roof similar to the reconstruction you can see in the next photo album:

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Al Beidha


However, finding the very place is not easy since there is no sign or map of the sites. Hence, in search for the Neolithic site in Little Petra I was recommended to join a group of French travelers who were heading towards the site. The group turned out – unfortunately too late for me – being a high advanced climbing group which was keen to look for the most adventures way inside the mountain range (actually a quite nice climbing and hiking area but not without warning 😳 ).

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Finally, I found the site thanks to the professional help of the French and Bedouin guides and the charming encouragement of their group.

The way back turned out to be a comfortable footpath:


View Al Beidha & Little Petra in a larger map

 

My way back home to Germany via Amman crossed the capital’s citadel with its Archaeological Museum full of very famous objects:

 

Amman


 

Good bye kind and peaceful Jordan!


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