Petra (meaning ‘the rock’ in Greek) is one of the world’s most visually impressive archaeological sites. It is also called ‘Rose City’ due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. It was built around the early 5th century BC in Jordan’s southwestern desert which served as the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. Petra, located between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was inhabited by the Nabataeans (nomadic Arabs) since prehistoric times.
Petra is an amazing example of rock-cut architecture carved directly into lively red, pink and white sandstone cliffs. Located between rugged desert canyons and mountains, it is half-built, half-carved into the rock. The Nabataeans built houses and halls, temples and tombs, altars and network of cisterns and reservoirs which formed their civilization. The Nabataeans’ great work of constructing effective water collecting systems in the barren deserts paved way to rich agricultural and grazing lands.
The Nabataean capital, Petra was located a few miles away from the junction of important trade routes; one towards the Persian Gulf, one to the Mediterranean Sea the other connecting Syria with the Red Sea. These regional trade routes made it a major trading hub, thus enabling them to become rich.
This museum was founded in April 1994. Located just 4 km from the main gate of Petra, the museum is divided into three exhibition halls to display a 600 plus artifacts. The First Hall displays Nabataean history and geological artifacts from the Neolithic period. The Second Hall contain archaeological discoveries arranged according to their time period. The “Beida excavations” which revealed remains that date back to the Stone Age. The “Tawilan excavations” which discovered the Iron Age and the “Alzentor excavations” uncovered a number of Nabataean houses. The “Alzerabh excavations” unearthed Nabataean pottery ovens from the 1st century BC to the 6th century AD. Lastly, The Third Hall contains bronze statues, ornaments, pottery, jewelry, coins and a collection of pottery lamps from various eras.
This prehistoric city was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years until it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Petra was named amongst the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1985.