The oldest cities in the world have their own histories. All are very special. But in Jordan, there is a city that transcends specialness, that is Petra – an ancient city.
The reason Petra is so special is itself – a city carved and carved out of stone. In fact, there is no shortage of giant structures in the world carved from a single rock, but carving an entire city is clearly not simple. Moreover, Petra is also an abandoned city, and this makes it even more mysterious.
1. Who built Petra?
For hundreds of years, Petra was abandoned, but thousands of years ago it was extremely bustling. At that time, Petra was the trading center of the country, with a prime location located at the intersection of the main roads. Silk, spices, herbs transferred from India to Arab, Africa, Egypt and back, all had to go through Petra. Therefore, the residents here are extremely rich and affluent.
Exactly when Petra was created is unknown. Just know that, it was the capital of the Nabataean kingdom. It is estimated that during the peak years, about 20,000 people lived in this city.
2. How can an entire city be created through stone carvings and chisels?
All the buildings in the city are carved from the wall of a canyon, with a truly overwhelming scale. The subtle lines show the extremely high level of development of the resident community at that time, as well as the high level of craftsmen.
The main entrance to the city is called Al-Khazneh (meaning “Treasure”). This name was given by the Bedouin tribe – a nomadic Arab – because they believed that they were rich inside. The gate is carved from rose stone, so Petra is also known as “Rose City”.
To create such a project is of course very difficult, requires the builders to be really skilled. The buildings are created with Greek and Roman accents.
Experts believe that Petra’s builders had to create giant steps to ensure safety during work, because the city is located in the middle of the desert and has no surrounding trees. Experts believe that this work must be carved from top to bottom. With only hammers and chisels, they created a masterpiece.
3. The defensive capabilities of the city?
Probably not very well! When Petra was too rich in an age of turmoil, they became targets of scrutiny – especially from Greece. The Petra warriors had won several battles, but when the Roman Empire appeared, they couldn’t hold back any more. However, after surrendering to the Romans, Petra continued to grow in the next many years.
In the 4th century, an earthquake destroyed much of the city, and the Romans decided to leave. Petra was later owned by the Byzantine Empire.
4. Why did Petra disappear?
As technology evolved, shipping also became popular, and Petra lost its original position. At a point no one paid attention, and the entire city was filled with the fierce sand of the desert. That’s how Petra disappeared on the map.
However, Petra’s disappearance was only for Westerners. As for the local residents, they know they own a gem. As the Bedouins still live in the caves of the city, they consider themselves descendants of the Nabataean kingdom and do not want anyone to know about this city. They fear that when they know Petra, people will come to find treasure and destroy the remnants.
And so Petra’s location was hidden for many years to come.
5. After all, still to the ears of Europeans
August 12, 1812, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt – a young Swiss man discovered Petra. Burckhardt heard the legend of this city when he arrived in Cairo (Egypt), and since then he disguised himself as a native, finding ways to find Petra.
However, Johann cannot spend too much time in the city because he is not a native. He could not even confirm this was where he was looking, because there was no evidence at all. However, this is still a stepping stone for later researchers to follow in and find Petra, with the first survey beginning in 1929.
6. “Treasures” in the city
Calm down, “Treasure” here is the entrance gate – The Treasury. Archaeologists actually do not know exactly why the ancients created this gate. Some people think this is a tomb of King Nabataean, others think it is a temple. However, it is all fairly certain that the gate was built long after the city was founded and became rich.
7. In a city in the arid desert, how did the Petra survive?
To explain this, the people of the city are experts in the water technology. They built a system of tanks, dams, waterways … turning the city into an oasis for passengers in the desert. Thanks to these technologies, people can live comfortably even in times of drought.
8. What is Petra but beautiful gates?
Lots of it! One of Petra’s most impressive works is the theater. It is located in the middle of the city, can accommodate up to 8,500 people. There are also mausoleums, a monastery and a memorial building for the purpose of which no one knows what to do.
In 1985, Petra was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage, and in 2007 became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. At the present time, Petra exists to serve tourists, while the Bedouin have been granted special homes not far away, with the main source of income coming from tourists.
9. Strange rocks
There are many mysteries in Petra, such as the giant cubes located near the gates outside the city. No one knows what their purpose of existence is, but locals believe that behind them are the gods, locked up to protect the old city.
10. Can every mystery be solved?
In fact, science is still doing that. In 2016, archaeologists discovered a giant structure inside Petra, believed to be a place for people burial. Or in 1993, a Byzantine-era document was discovered, with its content still being decoded.
Scientists believe we only know about 15% of this city, and that another 85% is lying underground, unexplored.
Source: BS, VT.co