Jordan’s deep history offers a wealth of diverse Prehistoric sites as well as monuments from the Hellenistic, Roman, Nabataean, Byzantine, Arab, Seljuk, Crusader and Ottoman cultures. Events here shaped the Middle East. These include the rise of Semitic and Hellenic cultures, the triumphs of the Persians and the conquests of Alexander the Great. The Nabataeans, traders and masters of irrigation, formed a wealthy state centring on magnificent Petra. Roman imperialism bred a distinctive Byzantine culture and Islam changed the region forever. Crusaders invaded the Holy Land and founded the Kingdom of Jerusalem protected by Jordan’s crusader castles. When the Crusader States collapsed, the Islamic Ayyubids and Mamluks held sway. The Ottomans dominated the region for centuries. When Ottoman power waned, French and British interference was followed by the emergence of modern Middle Eastern States.
Nabatean Petra requires at least two days to explore. The beautiful 2nd-century palace at Iraq al-Amir is one of the few survivors of the Hellenistic period. Machaerus is the Herodian fortified hilltop palace overlooking the Dead Sea where John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded. The Romans left us the Greco-Roman Decapolis, ten eastern frontier cities, including vast Jerash and fascinating Pella and Gadara. In Amman and in Jordan’s desert stand atmospheric palaces built by Islam’s first hegemony, the Umayyad Caliphate. They include Qasr Amra, with unique, exquisite wall paintings. Kerak, meanwhile, is one of the greatest Crusader castles. The American Centre for Oriental Research in Amman holds the fascinating Petra scrolls and Umm ar-Rasas and Madaba have lustrous Early Christian mosaics. From Mount Nebo Moses gazed upon the Promised Land. Lot sheltered in a cave after fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah. The salt-rich Dead Sea has the Earth’s lowest waters. A luxury desert camp offers a base to explore the blood-red sand and dramatic rock formations of Wadi Rum. This desert valley was frequented by Lawrence of Arabia. Wadi Dana and Mujib Nature Reserve offer nature trails through deep gorges and valleys, rich in extraordinarily varied flora and fauna.
Join archaeologist Dr Chris Tuttle visiting prehistoric sites, and monuments from the Hellenistic, Roman, Nabataean, Byzantine, Arab, Seljuk, Crusader and Ottoman cultures. Read more