Monday, March 28, 2011

Petra-mysterious city of rock

One of the most mysterious desert towns of the Middle East, Petra in Jordan. Here, at a junction of three caravan routes, the tribe of the Nabataeans controlled until the late antiquity into the distance selling incense and other luxury goods. The money that they earned so invested, the Nabataeans in the source of their wealth: their strategically-located site.

Frankincense from southern Arabia, one of the most valuable items of antiquity, was transported on the backs of countless camels through the desert. Up to forty miles a day moving the ships of the desert on the incense road. This trade route leading from the present-day Oman to the port city of Gaza. From there the goods were shipped to Europe.
Commercial city in the desert

Petra - rock - Greek historian called the city in the desert where the caravans stopped off. As a hub of the frankincense trade route, and two other major trade routes, they became famous and powerful. Their owners, the Nabataeans, had been rich with customs duties and commercial agents. When building their city used the Nabataeans sent the natural conditions: They beat their homes directly from the reddish sandstone, creating elaborate, columned portals

But behind the imposing facades, there were no large-sized rooms - here, the Nabataeans embedded their dead: Petra was a necropolis. Only centuries later, the caves were used as dwellings. The most impressive building, built in the first century BC, the al-Khazne Firaun, the "treasure house of Pharaoh, " with its 40 meters high magnificent facade. The name is misleading - it is suspected that the building was used as a grave temple for a king. In the facade of influences from Egypt and Greece, can see who the site on the caravan routes in the rock city. The Khazne was driven by the Nabataeans in the flanks of the Siq, a nearly hundred-meter-deep gorge.

Flood risk in the gorge

For millennia, the water had eaten here in the sandstone. From a gap that once an earthquake tore into solid rock, was a hidden access to the rock town. But the canyon harbored a great danger: Heavy rain could cause flooding. The desert him, but it only rarely, but it can all turn higher. Often, the parched soil does not absorb the huge amounts of water. Then puddles swell rapidly to streams, flash floods streams. Fill dry river bed, and shoot through canyons.

The floods break stones and debris with it and threaten all that is in their way - not only the Khazne, but the entire town, which lies in a valley. Its builders were aware of the deadly force of nature, trying to tame them. They proposed to a 30 meter long tunnel in the rock and turned to the flash flood in a different canyon.

Wise Water Management

The Nabataeans understood it not only to protect themselves from the water, they had also developed techniques to preserve the precious water that was in the long dry seasons in short supply on, cleverly and use. The tunnel was created as part of a vast water management system. To the inhabitants of Petra, and their fields to provide year-round, tapped one of sources within a radius of fifty kilometers.

Through pipes, the source water was distributed to Petra and in tanks, basins and cisterns stored, summarized some of which up to 300,000 liters. Thanks to the sophisticated canal system was able to grow the city and eventually home to thousands of residents and travelers. In his heyday was like a natural fortress of Petra lush oasis. She counted to 70 AD of the most magnificent cities all over Arabia.

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