Photographer's Note

Here I am, on my way to enter one of the most fascinating places in the world, the remains of the ancient city of Petra, in September 1995.

I had planned to show two photos from a day-trip to southern Lebanon, but I decided they were not interesting enough for TE.

So instead I move to Jordan. From Beirut I flew to Amman (making a detour to avoid Israeli airspace), and after just one night in the capital I went by bus to Petra in the south.

Petra, whose history goes back to several hundred years BC, has been recognized by the Unesco as a World heritage site since 1985, and was in 2007 named one of the seven new wonders of the world in a global vote.

Petra was founded by the Nabataeans, an Arab people who migrated to the area south and southeast of the Dead Sea about the 5th century BC. The city became an important regional trade center but lost its position during the 2nd century AD when most trade switched to other routes. Petra was conquered by the Romans in 106 AD and later was a part of the Byzantine empire. During the 13th and 14th centuries the city was abandoned, partly due to severe destruction in a number of earthquakes, and was forgotten by outsiders until it was "rediscovered" by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.

I guess the locals knew about Petra all the time.

What remains of Petra today are a number of buildings, including a monastery, an amphitheater, a temple and several tombs, most of them hewn out of the steep rocks surrounding the city and adorned with ornamented façades. Most of these places look fantastic, but what really makes Petra such a very special place is its location among steep hills, which made the city easy to defend. Entrance is through a long and narrow corridor, called the Siq, which you can see in today's main photo. Parts of the Siq are much narrower than what you see here.

Walking through the Siq (and I was alone for most of the way, more than 1 km) you gradually build up enormous expectations, because it's such a spectacular road and you know what marvels you are about to see. It's like being part of, for instance, an Indiana Jones movie. (Yes, one film was partly shot in Petra.) Often the gap between the rocks was so narrow that the sun didn't reach the ground. It was obvious from the colours of the rocks and the shapes of their surfaces that they were once the same rock that had been split and the two parts pushed to the sides. Here and there parts of the paved Roman road remained.

It was a strange experience to hear the voices of invisible people somewhere else in the Siq, or the sounds of invisible horses running along the track. The sounds were carried a long way, just like at sea.

Here is a larger version.

One WS shows a steep wall and a donkey, the other shows a huge rock with graves hewn out of it.

Petra is such a marvellous place that I will remain here for at least two more uploads.

As usual all these photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12405 W: 572 N: 23819] (101930)
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