City of Petra – An Ancient City
The City of Petra, obscured from the western world until discovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812 and still widely unknown by many despite its growing modern fame, is an ancient city located in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. It is located near the southwest corner of Jordan just east of the Israeli border. The city itself is located near Mount Hor (the location in scripture, Numbers 20:23-28, where the brother of Moses -- Aaron -- passed away) as well as the modern day city of Wadi Musa (Arabic for Valley of Moses) -- built primarily to host visitors of the ancient city. Petra was originally built as the capital of the ancient Nabataean people. It was built in a valley of sandstone mountains and much of the city is built directly into the sandstone itself. Because of the cities positioning, its inhabitants took on two very great advantages:
The City of Petra – The Nabataeans
The City of Petra, as mentioned above, was founded by a nomadic people called the Nabataeans. The Nabataeans, though unknown as to why, settled in the valley below Mount Hor and developed a culture that helped spread commerce throughout the Roman Empire and other surrounding cultures. Though eventually overtaken by the Romans and the city lived in by a number of later cultures, the Nabataean people thrived in their day through agriculture, art, and literature (known basically from the inscriptions found on the walls of the old city because all other Nabataean literature has been lost over time).
The various drawings and architecture in the City of Petra provide evidence that the Nabataen people were very creative and inventive. Some reports say that close to or more than 30,000 people may have lived in the city during its prime years of existence.
The City of Petra – Today
Today the city of Petra is a wonderful vacation and visitation site. Despite being located in a strong modern Islamic country, many westerners visit the city to view its wonderful history and architecture and feel safe doing so. In fact, Marwan Khouri, the director of the Jordan Tourist Board said in an article written by Tim Friend of the USA Today in 1997, “To the outside world, the Middle East looks like one big war zone, but we are actively trying to get people to realize that it is quite safe here in Jordan.”1
Though the city is difficult to reach, its many sites make visiting the city an instant draw; especially since it has recently been added to the list of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Along with this, among the many who have visited the city is Hollywood; as the city was featured in a famous Hollywood film in 1989 -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Those who visit the ancient city will glean an experience and lesson of great history and biblical truth. Many people over time have walked its streets and lived over its foundations and Scripture has captured some of this history and provided insight as to the daily activities of the cities past. To walk where history has been recorded can be highly exhilarating.