Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.
-John William Burgon-
Due to some unrest in the West Bank around January 2009, my friends, who had wanted to accompany me to Petra, changed their mind. Meanwhile, my exchange semester in Israel was coming to an end and I was about to return to Australia. I was not sure when I would revisit the Middle East. Reckless, playful, and eager for adventure, I set out on my solo journey to seek the rose-red city so famously priased by John William Burgon.
Digging into the Past
The magnificent Petra was built by the Nabateans in 400 BCE. It was thriving as the Nabateans’ trading centre and capital until 106 CE, when it fell under Roman rule. Its decay in international trade due to the rise of sea trade routes, coupled with repeated earthquakes ultimately led to its oblivion around 700 CE. In the 19th century, a Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised himself as a Bedouin, secretly infiltrated the city, and thus led to the rediscovery of Jordan’s buried gem by the West. (more…)