Petra, Jordan’s Archaeological Site

petra, jordan
Petra,Jordan At Night

The archaeological sites that unfold a great mystery and profound story are always eye catching for tourists of the world. Paying visit to these sites or even reading their history shows the lifestyle of those civilizations that had an impact which is still deep till date. It became unable for people to neglect these sites and somehow they dig deep and find out the lost cultures even if their signs were faded with passing time. It is very obvious that the natural disasters and wars held between people damaged many things but few remains are still there and is a center of attraction for many people. Same is the site of Jordan, Petra that was also known as Raqmu in ancient times.Let’s explore this beautiful historic site of Jordan with the Author.

History of Petra, Jordan:

Nabataeans or Nabateans were originally Arab people who settled in the capital city of Raqmu which is now called Petra. From the Euphrates to the Red Sea, the borderland between Arabia and Syria was given the name Nabatene. They had little control over the area and as a result it was conquered by Trajan a Roman Emperor who converted the kingdom into the Roman Kingdom. Nabataeans were most precious people of the ancient world. They were from a nomadic tribe and thus were very familiar with thick and thin situations. They settle wherever they find food and water. Their specialty is to preserve water in areas like a desert and efficiently convert solid rocks into a fine structure. Carving is what they were best at. This is the reason their city Raqmu (present Petra) in Jordan is one of the new seven wonders of the world.

There are some ancient sites in the world which reveal great culture and civilization of people at that time. Visiting these sites tell stories about their lifestyle, their heritage, and history. Many of these sites have gone reconstruction because of negligence in their proper safety and maintenance. Up till now, people work in finding out such sites that are a mark of ancient civilization and its inhabitants. Such sites that are unique with respect to their structure, history, culture and have other distinct significance are selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Sites and this Petra a Jordanian Cultural and Historic site is one of them.

Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan

Some Facts:

This cultural site was unknown to a majority of tourists until the year 1812 after which it gained popularity. The city is also known as Rose City for the color of stone it is carved with. The city is famous for its architectures that were made by cutting rocks. It is the specialty of ancient people that they were outstanding in making amazing buildings by carving stone and shaping it in whichever way they want. Many of such sites had to be rebuilt or renovated in one way or the other. Petra is also considered as one of the most precious cultural property of man’s cultural heritage and it is also on the list of places one must visit before death.

The city is surrounded by towering rocks and watered by a stream. It is one of the specialties of Nabataeans that they preserve water very well. Even if flood met the city, the people were able to preserve its water and created an artificial oasis. They made little dams, water conduits, and cisterns. This showed how well civilized and proper they were in management.

Threats and Damages to Petra, Jordan:

Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan

The site was damaged by many factors. Collapse and flood damaged it. Rainwater and poor drainage system damaged it. Unstable tourism and no restoration made it worse. And since it was not very familiar site in the past so there wasn’t proper maintenance committee to look after this historical site. But the year it was selected in the New Severn Wonders of the World, proper attempts were made to save this site from any harm and damage. Many local and international projects were initiated to protect and preserve this gem of archaeological heritage.

The religion of Nabataeans:

The Religion of these people was worshiping idols. And it is still depicted if one visit these sites. They follow and worship the Arab idols, their god and goddesses. For each thing, they have specified an idol. Like the god of the sun, rain, thunderstorm and much more. And they carve their statues in stones. The statues were a symbol of divinity and hope. They worship their idols and pray to them for favors and grants. Up till now many old civilizations whose remains have been preserved as heritage in museums of the world shows the idols.

If someone is preparing for a tour and not including this outstanding archaeological and cultural site in his/her list, it’s definitely an act of injustice 🙂

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Great Mosque of Damascus- Umayyad Mosque, Syria

The Great Mosque of Damascus, Syria
The Great Mosque of Damascus, Syria

The middle east is enriched with great architectures. Diving deep in any of the historical buildings will unfold a new tale. Each of these buildings shows the extreme love of the past people for great edifices. It shows how significant those civilizations were. Even to this day, these buildings stand alone in the field of artistry and grace. One big stop to this are the remarkable structures in Syria- the heart of western Asia.

While exploring Syria, one would definitely do injustice if he skips the most noticeable masterpiece of Damascus that is none other than its mosque called The Great Mosque of Damascus. It is nonetheless a living monument of Umayyad Dynasty. So let’s start our journey with the Author.

History of Umayyad Mosque, Syria:

The Great Mosque of Damascus is also called The Umayyad Mosque. It is one of the oldest mosques in Islam. Some Muslims consider it the fourth holiest site. Besides Muslims, it is considered holy by the Christians alike. There are various reasons it is sacred for both the religions. And both consider it divine and have a strict association with it.

Construction of the building:

As Syria is a home to many great civilizations therefore back in the days when Syria was under Aramaean rule who followed the god of rain and thunderstorm Hadad-Ramman as per their faith, constructed a temple for him. This is the location where present day Umayyad Mosque is built. After the conquest of Syria by the Romans, they comprehend the god of rain Hadad-Ramman as their own god of rain Jupiter. And thus expanded the temple. Later in the 4th century, the temple was converted into the Christian cathedral.

Umayyad Mosque’s importance for Christians:

As the temple was converted into the cathedral. It was under the control of bishop of Damascus. It is to be believed that the head of Saint John the prophet who is a holy figure for both Christians and Muslims is buried here. Saint John’s holy shrine is still in the Mosque of Damascus and people believe that some prophetic and miraculous events are associated with it. It was a major site for pilgrims in Byzantine empire and people would often travel long distances in order to pay visits to the enshrined head of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist Holy Shrine, Syria
John the Baptist Holy Shrine, Syria

Umayyad Mosque’s importance for Muslims:

The Arab Muslims conquer Damascus under the leadership of Khalid Bin Waleed. By then the caliphate was under the control of Umayyad Dynasty. The six caliph of that period ordered the construction of a mosque at the place of the cathedral. Before that, it was visited regularly by the local Christians along with other Muslims who had a prayer room in another part of the building. After the order of caliph, a major part of the building was demolished along with the prayer room. The main purpose of constructing a new building was to provide the large area for congregational prayers for Muslims and as a compensation, all other churches of the city were given back to the Christian community. The mosque had to be rebuilt several times because of the negligence that has occurred in protecting it.

Few Facts associated with The Great Mosque of Damascus:

  • The minarets of the mosques dated back to al-Walid, who constructed it for the first time, with little reconstruction. One of the minarets is called the Minaret of Jesus because it is to be believed by the Muslims that before the final hour Jesus Christ would come back and this is the place where Christ will appear.
Minaret of Jesus
Minaret of Jesus
  • Towards the eastern side of the main hall is the place which is finely tiled chamber or shrine. It is to be believed that this place holds the head of either Zechariah the father of prophet John or Hussein Bin Ali- the grandson of Muhammad.
  • Saladin is considered as one of the most prominent conquerors in Islamic history and his tomb is placed in the garden that adjoins the north wall of the mosque. This is one more reason why Umayyad Mosque holds significance in Islam.
  • The shrine of John who is considered a prophet in Islam is still in the mosque and it is a means of utmost respect and divinity for Muslims.
  • The great Mosque of Damascus is the place where the prisoners of Karbala incident were kept. The household of Prophet Mohammad walked all the way from Iraq to this place and was imprisoned here for sixty days. There are numerous other tiny sites inside the hall that tells stories.

It is, therefore, sacred for both shia and Sunni sects of Islam. Just like it is sacred for Christians. Every year many people visit this Holy and historical site that is a mark of many ages in itself.

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Great Sphinx of Giza-Egypt’s eminent civilization

Great Sphinx of Giza-Egypt
                                 The Great Sphinx of Giza- Egypt.

 

The world still has the remains of great civilizations that happened to survive on it and mark a name none can repudiate now. Each of them holds a story and a series of incidents that are associated with them. For some, it is always alluring to go to those places personally and live the moments by recalling all that has happened to them. And others may sit back and get an online journey. For this reason, few ancient yet wondrous global sites are selected to make our journey in history and knowledge appealing and powerful. One among many others is the renowned historical building of Egypt. The Great Sphinx of Giza. Let’s travel Egypt with the author.

History of The Great Sphinx of Giza-Egypt:

Khafra was a king- an Egyptian Pharaoh in 4th dynasty. It is common in their culture to built tombs of their kings as they passed away. Egypt contains many pyramids and if we dig deep into the history of these architectures we will come to know that many of these are built in memory of their great pharaohs. And for this reason, ancient people saw these buildings with respect and consider them as a source of divinity.

The Great Sphinx of Giza or simply Sphinx of Giza is a statue and it is commonly known that the face of sphinx represents the face of Khafra-the Egyptian Pharaoh. Sphinx is a mysterious monster construed with a lion’s body and a woman’s head. The answers to the questions like who built this statue and for what purpose is still to be discovered. The time frame for the construction of this building is also a matter of conflict among the Egyptology but an estimated study says it was built some 2500 BC for Khafra.

Back in the days, the statue of Sphinx of Giza cemetery was forsaken and as a result, the statute went into the heap of sand up to the shoulders. Then for the first time, the 8th Pharaoh of Egypt Thutmose IV assembled a team for the purpose of the statue’s excavation. And with much effort, they dig out some parts of the statue (the front paws). Three more excavations were held and people managed to dig out the statue parts by parts but the complete architecture was discovered in the period of 1926 to 1936. It was done by Emile Baraize who was a french egyptologist.

In the middle years, the Egyptian engineers also repaired the statue’s head because it was fallen. The nose of the statue is missing and there are various stories attached with this. Some believe it was destroyed by a cannonball fired by the soldiers. Others believed as the Sphinx was a symbol of divinity and people make offering through it. So some local peasants prayed for the increase in their harvest and on getting furious they cut down the nose of the statue and were hanged later for attempting vandalism.

Sphinx in early Egyptian period was a way of solar worship and the lion was an also attached with the sun in eastern civilizations. It’s a symbol of valor and bravery. It’s believed that the Sphinx, its temple and the mortuary of Khafra are all part of one complex Egyptian dynasty IV. And the reason for constructing it in this way is to show the courage of Khafra against its enemies. Past 700 years show that there have been numerous visitors of this great site that holds a deep history. Reports have been made on it And many tourists shared what experience they had upon seeing the site. A generic statement was made by John Lawson Stoddard who was an American hymn writer and lecturer. He said:

“It is the antiquity of the Sphinx which thrills us as we look upon it, for in itself it has no charms. The desert’s waves have risen to its breast as if to wrap the monster in a winding-sheet of gold. The face and head have been mutilated by Moslem fanatics. The mouth, the beauty of whose lips was once admired, is now expressionless. Yet grand in its loneliness, – veiled in the mystery of unnamed ages, – the relic of Egyptian antiquity stands solemn and silent in the presence of the awful desert – symbol of eternity. Here it disputes with Time the empire of the past; forever gazing on and on into a future which will still be distant when we, like all who have preceded us and looked upon its face, have lived our little lives and disappeared.”

Egypt is a center of historical sites and The Great Sphinx of Giza is nonetheless one beauty and a must visit among them all.

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