Previous page  
List of subjects |  Sources |  Feedback 

Share |

Discover in a free
daily email today's famous
history and birthdays

Enjoy the Famous Daily

The rose-red city: 2nd century AD

From the 4th century BC Petra is the stronghold of the Nabataeans. Its prosperity comes from its position on the caravan route north from the Gulf of Aqaba. But its modern fame derives from the rock tombs, cut late in Petra's history in the fantastically coloured cliffs of a deep and inaccessible ravine. Carved in the Greek classical style, they mostly date from after AD 105 - when Rome conquers this region, bringing it within the empire as the province of Arabia.

From the 4th century Petra is for a while a Christian city, with its own bishop. In the 7th century it is taken by Muslims. Gradually it declines into an occasional resort, of improbable grandeur, used by nomadic tribes.

In this condition it is found, and described to a European readership, by a Swiss traveller, J.L. Burckhardt, who visits the site in 1812.

Its new fame is rapid. The most famous phrase describing it is coined as early as 1845 in a poem by Dean Burgon entitled Petra - 'a rose-red city half as old as Time'.

Previous page