Jordània, dia 4: visita a Petra, un somni fet realitat (31 de desembre de 2017) (II)


The Semitic name of the city, if not Sela, remains unknown. The passage in Diodorus Siculus (xix. 94–97) which describes the expeditions which Antigonus sent against the Nabataeans in 312 BC is understood to throw some light upon the history of Petra, but the "petra" (rock) referred to as a natural fortress and place of refuge cannot be a proper name and the description implies that the metropolis was not yet in existence, although its place was used by Arabians.
The name "Rekem" was inscribed in the rock wall of the Wadi Musa opposite the entrance to the Siq. However, Jordan built a bridge over the wadi and this inscription was buried beneath tons of concrete.
Mid-Antiquity
In AD 106, when Cornelius Palma was governor of Syria, the part of Arabia under the rule of Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire as part of Arabia Petraea and became its capital. The native dynasty came to an end but the city continued to flourish under Roman rule. It was around this time that the Petra Roman Road was built. A century later, in the time of Alexander Severus, when the city was at the height of its splendor, the issue of coinage comes to an end. There is no more building of sumptuous tombs, owing apparently to some sudden catastrophe, such as an invasion by the neo-Persian power under the Sassanid Empire. Meanwhile, as Palmyra (fl. 130–270) grew in importance and attracted the Arabian trade away from Petra, the latter declined. It appears, however, to have lingered on as a religious centre. Another Roman road was constructed at the site. Epiphanius of Salamis (c.315–403) writes that in his time a feast was held there on December 25 in honor of the virgin Khaabou (Chaabou) and her offspring Dushara (Panarion LI, 22:9-12). Dushara and al-Uzza were two of the main deities of the city, which otherwise included many idols from other Nabatean deities such as Allat and Manat.
Late Antiquity to Early Middle Ages
Petra declined rapidly under Roman rule, in large part from the revision of sea-based trade routes. In 363 an earthquake destroyed many buildings, and crippled the vital water management system. The last inhabitants abandoned the city (further weakened by another major earthquake in 551) when the Arabs conquered the region in 663. The old city of Petra was the capital of the Byzantine province of Palaestina III and many churches were excavated in and around Petra from the Byzantine era. In one of them more than 150 papyri were discovered which contained mainly contracts. The ruins of Petra were an object of curiosity during the Middle Ages and were visited by Sultan Baibars of Egypt towards the end of the 13th century.

19th century

The first European to describe them was Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt during his travels in 1812. At that time, the Greek Church of Jerusalem operated a diocese in Al Karak named Battra (باطره in Arabic, and Πέτρας in Greek) and it was the opinion among the clergy of Jerusalem that Kerak was the ancient city of Petra.
The Scottish painter David Roberts visited Petra in 1839, and returned to England with sketches and stories of the encounter with local tribes.
Because the structures weakened with age, many of the tombs became vulnerable to thieves, and many treasures were stolen. In 1929, a four-person team, consisting of British archaeologists Agnes Conway and George Horsfield, Palestinian physician and folklore expert Dr Tawfiq Canaan and Dr Ditlef Nielsen, a Danish scholar, excavated and surveyed Petra.
Numerous scrolls in Greek and dating to the Byzantine period were discovered in an excavated church near the Winged Lion Temple in Petra in December 1993.

T. E. Lawrence

In October 1917, as part of a general effort to divert Ottoman military resources away from the British advance before the Third Battle of Gaza, a revolt of Arabs in Petra was led by British Army officer T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) against the Ottoman regime. The Bedouin women living in the vicinity of Petra and under the leadership of Sheik Khallil's wife were gathered to fight in the revolt of the city. The rebellions, with the support of British military, were able to devastate the Ottoman forces.

Late 20th century: World Heritage Site designation

The Bidoul/ Bidul or Petra Bedouin were forcibly resettled from their cave dwellings in Petra to Umm Sayhoun/ Um Seihun by the Jordanian government in 1985, prior to the UNESCO designation process. Here, they were provided with block-built housing with some infrastructure including in particular a sewage and drainage system. Among the six communities in the Petra Region, Umm Sayhoun is one of the smaller communities. The village of Wadi Musa is the largest in the area, inhabited largely by the Layathnah Bedouin, and is now the closest settlement to the visitor centre, the main entrance via the Siq and the archaeological site generally. Umm Sayhoun gives access to the 'back route' into the site, the Wadi Turkmaniyeh pedestrian route.
On December 6, 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage Site. In a popular poll in 2007, it was also named one of the New7Wonders of the World.
The Bidouls belong to one of the Bedu tribes whose cultural heritage and traditional skills were proclaimed by UNESCO on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2005 and inscribed in 2008.
In 2011, following an 11-month project planning phase, the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority in Association with DesignWorkshop and JCP s.r.l published a Strategic Master Plan that guides planned development of the Petra Region. This is intended to guide planned development of the Petra Region in an efficient, balanced and sustainable way over the next 20 years for the benefit of the local population and of Jordan in general. As part of this, a Strategic Plan was developed for Umm Sayhoun and surrounding areas.
The process of developing the Strategic Plan considered the area's needs from five points of view:
·         a socio-economic perspective;
·         the perspective of Petra Archaeological Park;
·         the perspective of Petra’s tourism product;
·         a land use perspective;
·         an environmental perspective.

Petra today

In 2016, archaeologists discovered a large, previously unknown monumental structure buried beneath the sands of Petra using satellite imagery.
(Continuarà)
(La fotografia és de la ciutat perduda de Petra)


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