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A City Dug In The Rock
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A Premonition 14 Years in Advance
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Where Is It ?

Petra - A City Dug In The Rock

Petra

In August 1812, Swiss Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1784-1817), traveling through Orient, learned from a pilgrim about the existence of a city dug in the rock. Under any pretext, he was driven by Bedouins and, in a parade, 1.2 km long and 100 meters high, discovered the city of Petra, considered in Europe at the time a pure and simple invention.

A city dug in the rock

The origins of this city, now located in Jordan, go back to an enemy tribe of Israel: the Edomites. After their decline, around the 3rd century BC, the Nabataeans, a people from northern Arabia, settled there and made it their capital. The city of Petra, also known as "Selo", became one of the largest trading centers in the Middle East. The city reached its peak between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, period during which it would have sheltered up to 30 000 inhabitants. It is from this period that date the main monuments dug in the rock, at least those we know today: "the house of treasure", the Khazneh, the "Roman theater" and its five thousand seats, the center of the city ​​and its colonnade and many tombs, which today makes believe that the city was, before expanding, a burial place.

In the year 106 AD, the Romans defeated the Nabataeans. Annexed to the Roman Empire, the region had for new capital Bostra and Petra declined. Later, two earthquakes destroyed, in 363 and 551, large parts of the city, causing the departure of many inhabitants. It is now almost certain that when the Arabs arrived in 663, the city of Petra was practically no longer inhabited. After the Crusades of the Middle Ages, the city, forgotten by Europeans, became a legend and was only rediscovered in the 19th century. The first archaeological excavations began in the late 1920s, when the city also opened to tourists.

An enigmatic or reasonable approach?

Petra was most likely built in the heart of a long parade for strategic reasons. Indeed, to take control of a city located in such a site, it was necessary, on the one hand, that the buildings are in the parade itself and, on the other hand, that the enemy takes control of the surrounding mountains. The builders of Petra pushed the reasoning further and established their dwellings within the cliffs themselves. They thus had an immense advantage, since the opponent could not attack the buildings, let alone estimate the strengths and the resistance capacities of its inhabitants. Certainly, some of the buildings of the city were located in the parade proper, but it was, in the first place, commercial houses which did not give any information on the number of inhabitants nor on its degree of armament. To seize Petra, the possible aggressor had to abandon his own cover and engage in the parade with no rear, which was, of course, much risky.

The legendary status of Petra, long forgotten by Europeans, added to the fact that the city, at the time of its rediscovery, was forbidden to non-Muslims, explains all the rumors that surround it. In reality, Petra does not date from before the Flood and the circumstances of its appearance are not mysterious.

Myths and Legends of Petra

When one rediscovered Petra in the nineteenth century, at a time when only Muslims could go there, the most morbid rumors spread about it: it was said, for example, that one could find the decorated bones last person who had spoken about it.

According to other accounts, the place had a biblical origin: Moses would have brought forth a spring, to which the people of Israel would have quenched their thirst. But this water was then poisoned, which only the Muslims knew.

Many other rumors are still running, sometimes evoking the cruelties that Christians would have endured from various creatures, dead or alive, sometimes treasures, hidden in the depths of the cliff. These legends halted the city with a reputation both lugubrious and fascinating.