AP®︎/College Art History
- Petra: The rose red city of the Nabataeans
- Petra: Rock-cut façades
- Petra: urban metropolis
- Petra: UNESCO Siq Project
- The Kaaba
- The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra)
- The Great Mosque (or Masjid-e Jameh) of Isfahan
- Folio from a Qur'an
- Basin (Baptistère de Saint Louis)
- Bahram Gur Fights the Karg (Horned Wolf)
- Introduction to the court carpets of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires
- The Court of Gayumars
- Paradise in miniature, The Court of Kayumars — part 1
- Paradise in miniature, The Court of Kayumars — part 2
- The Ardabil Carpet
By Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
There is only one true way to experience Petra—the greatest city of the Nabataeans, a people who occupied the area from Sinai and Negev to northern Arabia in the west and as far north as southern Syria. On foot or mounted on a camel, one should leave the modern village of in modern-day Jordan and enter the , a narrow, curving canyon, that traders, explorers, and travelers have been walking down since time immemorial.
Stone carvings, camel caravans, and betyls (the famous god blocks) set in niches, appear. But these elaborate carvings are merely a prelude to one’s arrival into the heart of Petra, where the Treasury, or Khazneh, a monumental tomb, awaits to impress even the most jaded visitors. The natural, rich hues of Arabian light hit the remarkable façade, giving the Treasury its famed rose-red color.
Petra, the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom
Petra was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom for most of its history until the Roman Emperor Trajan created the province of Arabia in 106 C.E., annexed the Nabataean kingdom, and moved the capital of this new province to Bosra (also spelt Bostra) in what is today modern southern Syria.
The Hellenistic period
The ancient sources inform us that the Nabataeans were great traders who controlled the luxury trade in incense during the late Hellenistic and early Roman periods. The Hellenistic period stretches from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.E. to 31 B.C.E. when the Roman Empire emerged. It can also refer to artistic and cultural similarities in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the in this era. Petra, the rock-cut city of the Nabataeans, lay at the intersection of these rich trade routes. The great wealth that the Nabataeans amassed allowed them to create the spectacular architecture that so many admire in Petra today.
Susan B. Downey, “Museum Review: Petra Rediscovered: An Exhibition on Petra and Nabataean Sanctuaries in Jordan,” American Journal of Archaeology 109, no. 4 (October 2005): 783–787.
Essay by Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
Want to join the conversation?
- Why do things in that country look like things from Greek?(4 votes)
- Are the camels mutilated in the first photo?(3 votes)
- Madain Saleh, located in Saudi Arabia and the Nabateans’ second-largest city also had a crucial role in their mysterious empire and is a Unesco World heritage site.(2 votes)