Petra, Jordan’s prehistoric city, has been carved directly into the faces of red, white, pink, and sandstone for hundreds of years. Petra, in the middle of the rugged desert valleys and mountains in the southwestern part of what is now the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, was once a center of successful growth and was the capital of the Nabataean Empire between 400 BC. For centuries the city remained empty and on the verge of destruction. Only in the early 1800s did a European traveler dressed in Bedouin enter the mysterious area. In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park has declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2007 it was named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. Also, the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and some scenes from the Last Crusade were filmed in Petra. The film’s fictional lunar satellite was modeled on a 250-foot (76 m) sandstone plateau east of the eastern entrance to the city of Petra. It’s as simple as that.
Before the conquest of the Roman Empire, the Nabataeans controlled much of the Middle East, from present-day Israel and Jordan to the northern Arabian Peninsula. You can also see the ruins of their innovation networks, water storage, transportation, and irrigation systems throughout the area.
Scholars have known that the Nabataeans lived in Petra since 312 BC, says Seidun al-Muhaisen, an archaeologist at the University of Yarmouk in Jordan.
Al-Muhaisen, a Nabataean expert who has been excavating in Petra since 1979, says the earliest discoveries made so far in the 4th centuries BC were only in the second and first centuries BC. Numerous Greek writings and Byzantine writings were found in an excavated church in December 1993 near the winged Lion Temple in Petra. Researchers at the American Oriental Research Center in the capital, Amman, are now analyzing the text, which they hope will shed some light on life in Petra.
After the formal conquest of Petra by Rome in 106 AD, its importance in international trade began to wane. The city’s decay continued with the help of earthquakes and the increasing importance of sea trade routes, and Petra reached her Nadir near the reign of the Byzantine Empire around 700 AD.
Today, tourists can see various blends of Nabataean and Greco-Roman architecture in the city’s tombs. Many of them were looted by thieves and their treasures were lost. Today, local Bedouins, who sell tourist souvenirs, pick up their wares near the place where the Arabs believe. At that place, Moses struck the rock with his rod, and the water began to gush forth.