Jordània, dia 4: visita a Petra, un somni fet realitat (31 de desembre de 2017) (V)
The language of the Nabataean inscriptions, attested from the 2nd century BCE, shows a local development of the Aramaic language, which had ceased to have super-regional importance after the collapse of the Achaemenid Empire (330 BCE). The Nabataean alphabet itself also developed out of the Aramaic alphabet.
The Aramaic language was increasingly affected by the Arabic language, as Arab influence grew in the region over time. From the 4th century, the Arabic influence becomes overwhelming, in a way that it may be said the Nabataean language shifted seamlessly from Aramaic to Arabic. The Arabic alphabet itself developed out of cursive variants of the Nabataean script in the 5th century.
Ibn Wahshiyya claimed to have translated from this language in his Nabataean corpus. The Nabateans referred to themselves as "Nabatu" in their text inscriptions.
Although not as dry as at present, the area occupied by the Nabataeans was still a desert and required special techniques for agriculture. One was to contour an area of land into a shallow funnel and to plant a single fruit tree in the middle. Before the 'rainy season', which could easily consist of only one or two rain events, the area around the tree was broken up. When the rain came, all the water that collected in the funnel would flow down toward the fruit tree and sink into the ground. The ground, which was largely loess, would seal up when it got wet and retain the water.
In the mid-1950s, a research team headed by Michael Evenari set up a research station near Avdat (Evenari, Shenan and Tadmor 1971). He focused on the relevance of runoff rainwater management in explaining the mechanism of the ancient agricultural features, such as terraced wadis, channels for collecting runoff rainwater, and the enigmatic phenomenon of "Tuleilat el-Anab". Evenari showed that the runoff rainwater collection systems concentrate water from an area that is five times larger than the area in which the water actually drains.
Another study was conducted by Y. Kedar in 1957, which also focused on the mechanism of the agriculture systems, but he studied soil management, and claimed that the ancient agriculture systems were intended to increase the accumulation of loess in wadis and create an infrastructure for agricultural activity. This theory has also been explored by E. Mazor, of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Petra was rapidly built in the 1st century BCE, and developed a population estimated at 20,000.
The Nabataeans were allies of the first Hasmoneans in their struggles against the Seleucid monarchs. They then became rivals of the Judaean dynasty, and a chief element in the disorders that invited Pompey's intervention in Judea. Many Nabataeans were forcefully converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus It was this king who, after putting down a local rebellion, invaded and occupied the Nabataean towns of Moab and Gilead and imposed a tribute of an unknown amount. Obodas I knew that Alexander would attack, so was able to ambush Alexander's forces near Gaulane destroying the Judean army (90 BC).
The Roman military was not very successful in their campaigns against the Nabataeans. In 62 BCE, Marcus Aemilius Scaurusaccepted a bribe of 300 talents to lift the siege of Petra, partly because of the difficult terrain and the fact that he had run out of supplies. Hyrcanus II, who was a friend of Aretas, was despatched by Scaurus to the King to buy peace. In so obtaining peace, King Aretas retained all his possessions, including Damascus, and became a Roman vassal.
In 32 BCE, during King Malichus II's reign, Herod the Great, with the support of Cleopatra, started a war against Nabataea. The war began with Herod plundering Nabataea with a large cavalry force, and occupying Dium. After this defeat, the Nabataean forces amassed near Canatha in Syria, but were attacked and routed. Cleopatra's general, Athenion, sent Canathans to the aid of the Nabataeans, and this force crushed Herod's army, which then fled to Ormiza. One year later, Herod's army overran Nabataea.
After an earthquake in Judaea, the Nabateans rebelled and invaded Israel, but Herod at once crossed the Jordan river to Philadelphia (modern Amman) and both sides set up camp. The Nabataeans under Elthemus refused to give battle, so Herod forced the issue when he attacked their camp. A confused mass of Nabataeans gave battle but were defeated. Once they had retreated to their defences, Herod laid siege to the camp and over time some of the defenders surrendered. The remaining Nabataean forces offered 500 talents for peace, but this was rejected. Lacking water, the Nabataeans were forced out of their camp for battle, but were defeated in this last battle.
An ally of the Roman Empire, the Nabataean kingdom flourished throughout the 1st century. Its power extended far into Arabia along the Red Sea to Yemen, and Petra was a cosmopolitan marketplace, though its commerce was diminished by the rise of the Eastern trade-route from Myos Hormos to Coptos on the Nile. Under the Pax Romana, the Nabataeans lost their warlike and nomadic habits and became a sober, acquisitive, orderly people, wholly intent on trade and agriculture.
The kingdom was a bulwark between Rome and the wild hordes of the desert except in the time of Trajan, who reduced Petra and converted the Nabataean client state into the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.
By the 3rd century, the Nabataeans had stopped writing in Aramaic and begun writing in Greek instead, and by the 5th century they had converted to Christianity. The new Arab invaders, who soon pressed forward into their seats, found the remnants of the Nabataeans transformed into peasants. Their lands were divided between the new Qahtanite Arab tribal kingdoms of the Byzantine vassals, the Ghassanid Arabs, and the Himyarite vassals, the Kindah Arab Kingdom in North Arabia.
The city of Petra was brought to the attention of Westerners by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.”
A Lonley planet, també s’expliquen alguns detalls sobre la mítica Petra. Per aquells verals, ja fa més de 7000aC hi havia poblats neolítics. El moment de màxim esplendor de la ciutat fou durant el regnat d’Aretas IV (del 8aC fins al 40dC). En aquells moments sembla que la ciutat tenia uns 30000 habitants, entre els que hi havia escrivans (de fet, als nabateus se’ls considera precursors de l’escriptura àrab) i grans enginyers hidràulics que construïren preses, cisternes i grans edificis a prova d’inundacions.
Els nabateus, però, van sucumbir als romans. Cap a l’any 106dC, les rutes comercials van canviar i enlloc de Petra, va ser Palmira qui va esdevenir seu de comerç, Roma es va apoderar de la ciutat i la van reestructurar i afegir elements romans. Fins i tot, Petra fou visitada per l’emperador romà Adrià el 131dC.
Però el vertader declivi de Petra van ser causa dels terratrèmols del 363 i el 551, que a van destruir en gran part i va començar la llegenda que la va mantenir amagada fins el moment que va ser redescoberta.
El punt més allunyat de la ciutat de Petra és la tomba d’Aaron (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Aaron ), el germà de Moisès (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron; https://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron ), que està buida i comporta una caminada de 30km entre anar i tornar.
Ja comencem a enfilar el camí per perdre’ns pels secrets de Petra. El primer que veiem és una pedra tallada en forma d’urna i que es coneix com els blocs de Djinn o blocs de Déu. Són del s. I dC i encara no està clara la funció d’aquests blocs dels genis; hi ha hipòtesis que era una casa de genis per protegir el lloc o bé tombes inacabades.
Davant dels blocs de Djinn hi ha un edifici que consta de quatre columnes i una figura central. Segons sembla és una tomba d’una família, d’un senyor que va fer construir la tomba per ell i els seus quatre fills. Això es veu a la part superior; a la inferior s’hi veu una entrada; sembla que és la zona del triclinium. Aquesta zona s’usava per menjar i beure en homenatge als morts, costum que avui en dia encara conserven els musulmans. També es pot observar un lloc a on hi ha inscripcions; és un dels pocs llocs a on s’hi poden veure. Aquest lloc es coneix com la tomba dels Obeliscs amb el triclini de Bab as-Siq.
(La fotografia és del monestir de Petra)