Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Jordan #2 - Petra

Okay, it's nearly safe to come out ... this is the last set of my holiday photos. I've just about finished the laundry mountain too. Today's pictures are all from Petra, in Jordan.

Petra is justifiably famous, of course. Everyone who's seen the Indiana Jones film has seen the Siq ...

And the first incredible glimpse of the "Treasury" at the end.

But however incredible you think Petra is going to be ... it's more overwhelming than that. It's HUGE, for a start. We had 2 full days exploring the site. The "Treasury" is just the first thing you find - and it's not a treasury, it's a tomb. They're all tombs: hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them cut from the rock walls of the hidden valleys beyond. And 80% of the site is still awaiting excavation!

Most of them are sort of apartment-sized...

... but some of them are bloody enormous.

And the rock is candy-striped sandstone. The photo above gives the best idea of the colour of some of it (my other photos have come out a bit bleached).

This is a picture of our group ascending to the High Place of Sacrifice. It gives a faint idea of the extraordinary mountainscape that cradles the site, cutting it off from the world.

This is the sacrificial altar on the hilltop - approx 1000 years old.

Here's some cute goats - not for sacrifice. The Bedouin Arabs living in the Petra tombs were turfed out in order to save it for tourism/archaeology ... and in return they were (rightly) given the rights to make a living out of the place. So the whole site is scattered with handicraft stalls, and camel and donkey rides, making Petra a not unappealing cross between a necropolis and a market bazaar.

Just don't go buying souvenirs that look too convincing. My knock-off copies of antique artifacts got confiscated at Jordan airport!

And here is the not-recommeded route out of Petra. Three of us decided to leave not via the main Siq but by another little wadi which almost no one ever uses. As we walked it got narrower and narrower and narrower ... and I took this photo approximately at the point where it occured to me that if it rained on the hills overhead we were dead. Dead dead. We'd have been flushed out like toilet paper from a lavatory.

It was a hearts-in-our-mouths trek ... but we were lucky and it didn't rain until that evening.

I *heart* Petra.


Craig Sorensen said...

Sorry that they took away your replica goods.

I have always found those tombs carved into the cliffs fascinating. The degree of effort to accomplish them!

Thank you for sharing your journey.

Janine Ashbless said...

Thanks Craig.
I'm one of those people who like looking at other folks' holiday snaps, as well as reading travel books and stuff.

Pastor Larry said...

I love Petra and enjoy digging there at the Temple of the Winged Lions,