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The SIQ.........If there is only one place you visit in Jordan, it must be Petra. The site is often referred to as "the Rose-red city". And, that shows how much I knew about it. I'd only seen the Treasury in photos. I had no idea it was a city. And, it is no usual ancient city. Instead of free-standing buildings, Petra was hewn from towering sandstone walls. Once a thriving center of trade during the days of caravans with spice, myrrh and frankincense, the Nabataeans who built the city grew rich on taxes levied on passing merchants. But times changed, shipping routes replaced caravans, Romans as well as Crusaders came and went, and Petra became a forgotten outpost for about 600 years.

A Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as a Moslem, was led to the ruins in 1812. Local Bedouins kept the place a secret. He came saying he wanted to offer a sacrifice at Aaron's grave. That got him into Petra but he wasn't llowed to explore. That would have gotten him killed. But the gates were opened. The lost city had attracted tourists ever since, averaging 2000 a day.

Leading the way to the city was the Siq. It was a path of 1.2 kilometers that looked like a canyon but it wasn't carved by water. The earth split apart by tectonic forces. It varied in width from two to five meters and towered 200 overhead.

And after the Siq, you see the Treasury.

MARTIN

 
Copyright 2007 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.