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Petra – magical city and countryside

August 12, 2010

A tour of Petra’s city and countryside

post 1 of 3 on Jordan travels

The Royal Tombs in the late afternoon

Bdoul Mofleh, the last Bedouin still living in Petra invited us over for tea on his terrace to escape the afternoon heat.  When I asked him why he continued to live in his cave home rather than moving to the modern city, he just pointed to the landscape.   His finger traced the nose and eyes of a man’s face on a rock formation that he said became more illuminated as the afternoon pasted.  He then turned to another formation and traced the wings of a bird in flight that he said illuminated with the morning light.   He paused and smiled like he needed no further explanation, but to satisfy my silence he said, “There is no better place.”   Sitting on his terrace sipping tea and watching the color and shape of the rocks change with the light I could see his reasoning.   The landscape of Petra is simple and complex, mysterious and magical without the effort of modern architecture. Petra, a city carved out of the rocks comes to life throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. A simple structure that appeared lifeless in the morning has color, shape, and a story in the afternoon while beautiful images found in the morning become subdued.   It is easy to see why the Nabataeans and later the Romans built such an amazing city in the middle of the desert.

The slideshow will take you on a walk down the Siq, a hike through the mountains, a drive through the countryside, a leisurely day in the city that included an afternoon nap under a tree and a charming visit with the last Bedouin living in Petra.

Some of my favorite images to share from this slideshow are from the quiet countryside where the local Bedouin still live and work.  We rarely have the opportunity to see this side of Petra.

I wish I had the time to take enough images to convey the beauty and scope of the ancient city, but there was not enough time as a tourist during my two visits.

This is the first of a series of three photography slideshows that will be posted to my blog over the next month or so. The second slideshow will show images from the Bir Madhkur project and the third an overall look at Jordan.

All the images were taken in June of this year when I traveled to Jordan to document the Bir Madhkur project for Dr. Andrew Smith.   The project includes an archeology excavation of the city of Bir Madhkur as well as survey and excavation of numerous other archaeological features in the countryside such as agricultural settlements, farmhouses and caravan stations.   Bir Madhkur being approximately 10 km northwest of Petra was a center of activity along the ancient incense route and later became the site of a Roman fort.   In the next slideshow you will learn more.

To view the slideshow either press on the image or Petra slide show

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