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Jerash or Jarash, is one of the world’s best preserved ancient Roman sites. Once known as Gerasa, Jerash is believed to have been inhabited since the Neolithic Era. However, it is the impressive Roman city built in Jerash which has left its greatest mark on the area, becoming Jordan’s second most popular tourist site after Petra.

Jerash formed part of the Roman province of Syria following General Pompey’s conquest of the region in 64 BC. It later became one of the ten cities of the Decapolis league, flourishing and growing wealthier over two centuries of Roman rule. During this time, Jerash underwent several rounds of reconstruction, much of it occurring in the first century AD. One such occasion was in 129 AD, following a visit by the Emperor Hadrian. It was after this visit that Hadrian’s Arch or the ‘Triumphal Arch’ was built, the ruins of which can still be seen in the southern part of Jerash outside the archeological park itself.

By the third century AD, Jerash had reached its peak as a thriving centre of trade with a population of up to 20,000 people. In fact, Jerash was even awarded the status of being a colony. However, this success was soon followed by Jerash’s slow downfall.

Several events over the next centuries, including the destruction of Palmyra in 273 AD, pillaging of its temples to build Christian churches under the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century and the Muslim conquest of the region in the seventh century all contributed to the decline of Jerash. This was further exacerbated by an earthquake in 747 AD. In fact, notwithstanding a brief twelfth century occupation by Crusaders, Jerash had fallen and lay deserted by the thirteenth century.

Today, tourists flock to see Jerash’s extensive and impressive ruins, including the Temple of Artemis and the Forum with its large ionic columns. Jerash’s original main street, the Cardo, runs through the centre of the site and, with its visible chariot marks and underground drainage system, is fascinating in its own right.

Other must-see aspects of Jerash include its still-functioning 3,000 seat South Theatre built between 90-92AD during the reign of Emperor Domitian, its second century AD North Theatre and its Nymphaeum fountain. Visitors can also see many of the artifacts found during the excavation of this site at the Jerash Archeological Museum.


Evidence of human activity in Jordan dates back to the Paleolithic period. While there is no architectural evidence from this era, archaeologists have found tools, such as flint and basalt hand-axes, knives and scraping implements.

In the Neolithic period (8500–4500 BC) three major shifts occurred. First, people became sedentary, living in small villages, and discovering and domesticating new food sources such as cereal grains, peas and lentils, as well as goats. The human population increased to tens of thousands.

Second, this shift in settlement patterns appears to have been catalyzed by a marked change in climate. The eastern desert, in particular, grew warmer and drier, eventually to the point where it became uninhabitable for most of the year. This watershed climate change is believed to have occurred between 6500 and 5500 BC.

Third, beginning sometime between 5500 and 4500 BC, the inhabitants began to make pottery from clay rather than plaster. Pottery-making technologies were probably introduced to the area by craftsmen from Mesopotamia.

The largest Neolithic site in Jordan is at Ein Ghazal in Amman. The many buildings were divided into three distinct districts. Houses were rectangular and had several rooms, some with plastered floors. Archaeologists have unearthed skulls covered with plaster and with bitumen in the eye sockets at sites throughout Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Syria. A statue discovered at Ein Ghazal is thought to be 8,000 years old. Just over one meter high, it depicts a woman with huge eyes, skinny arms, knobby knees and a detailed rendering of her toes.

During the Chalcolithic period (4500–3200 BC), copper began to be smelted and used to make axes, arrowheads and hooks. The cultivation of barley, dates, olives and lentils, and the domestication of sheep and goats, rather than hunting, predominated. The lifestyle in the desert was probably very similar to that of modern Bedouins.

Tuleitat Ghassul is a large Chalcolithic era village located in the Jordan Valley. The walls of its houses were made of sun-dried mud bricks its roofs of wood, reeds and mud. Some had stone foundations, and many had large central courtyards. The walls are often painted with bright images of masked men, stars, and geometric motifs, which may have been connected to religious beliefs. [1]

Many of the villages built during the Early Bronze Age (3200–1950 BC) included simple water infrastructures, as well as defensive fortifications probably designed to protect against raids by neighboring nomadic tribes.

At Bab al-Dhra in Wadi `Araba, archaeologists discovered more than 20,000 shaft tombs with multiple chambers as well as houses of mud-brick containing human bones, pots, jewelry and weapons. Hundreds of dolmens scattered throughout the mountains have been dated to the late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages. [2]

Although writing was developed before 3000 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was generally not used in Jordan, Canaan and Syria until some thousand years later, even though archaeological evidence indicates that the inhabitants of Transjordan were trading with Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Between 2300 and 1950 BC, many of the large, fortified hilltop towns were abandoned in favor of either small, unfortified villages or a pastoral lifestyle. There is no consensus on what caused this shift, though it is thought to have been a combination of climatic and political changes that brought an end to the city-state network.

During the Middle Bronze Age (1950–1550 BC), migration across the Middle East increased. Trading continued to develop between Egypt, Syria, Arabia, and Canaan including Transjordan, resulting in the spread of technology and other hallmarks of civilization. Bronze, forged from copper and tin, enabled the production of more durable axes, knives, and other tools and weapons. Large, distinct communities seem to have arisen in northern and central Jordan, while the south was populated by a nomadic, Bedouin-type of people known as the Shasu.

New fortifications appeared at sites like Amman's Citadel, Irbid, and Tabaqat Fahl (or Pella). Towns were surrounded by ramparts made of earth embankments, and the slopes were covered in hard plaster, making the climb slippery and difficult. Pella was enclosed by massive walls and watch towers.

Archaeologists usually date the end of the Middle Bronze Age to about 1550 BC, when the Hyksos were driven out of Egypt during the 17th and 18th Dynasties. A number of Middle Bronze Age towns in Canaan including Transjordan were destroyed during this time.

The most prominent Iron Age kingdoms in Transjordan were Ammon, Moab, and Edom. [3] The Ammonites had their capital in Rabbath Ammon. The Moabites established their kingdom in what is today the Kerak Governorate with the capital at Kir of Moab (Kerak), [4] and the Kingdom of Edom was established in today's southern Jordan and southern Israel, with the capital at Bozrah in today's Tafilah Governorate. The Kingdom of Ammon maintained its independence from the Assyrian Empire, unlike all other kingdoms in the region which were conquered. [5]

In about 840 BC, Mesha, the King of the Moabites, revolted against the "House of David". Moab lay east of the Dead Sea, about 70 kilometers south of Amman. The ensuing war is recorded in the Bible's 2 Kings chapter 3. The Bible narrative is corroborated by the Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone that was found in the Jordanian town of Dhiban in 1868. This find indicated that the Moabites worked with inscriptions on bluish basalt stone.

The city of Saltus was probably established by Alexander the Great. Later antiquity saw the rise of the Nabatean kingdom (Arabic: الأنباط ‎ Al-Anbat) [ citation needed ] with its capital at Petra, which in time became a border, client state of the Roman Empire that got absorbed into the Empire in 106 CE. During the Greco-Roman period of influence, a number of semi-independent city-states also developed in the region, grouped by general Pompey into a city-league, the Decapolis, including on the territory of modern-day Jordan the cities of Gerasa (Jerash), Philadelphia (Amman), Abila (probably identical with ancient Raphana today's Quweilbeh), Dion and Capitolias (Beit Ras possibly the same as ancient Dion, with various identification attempts), Gadara (Umm Qays), and Pella (Tabaqat Fahl, west of Irbid). After the Christianisation of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, historians use the term Byzantine Empire for the eastern realm. The Christian Arab tribe of the Ghassanids ruled Transjordan on behalf of the Byzantines. Many exquisite mosaic floors from churches of the Byzantine period have been unearthed, the best known containing the so-called Madaba Map of the Holy Land.

In the early 7th century, the area of modern Jordan became integrated into the new Arab-Islamic Umayyad Empire (the first Muslim dynasty), which ruled much of the Middle East from 661 until 750 CE. At the time, Amman, today the capital of the Kingdom of Jordan, became a major town in "Jund Dimashq" (the military district of Damascus) and became the seat of the provincial governor. In fact, the name "Al-Urdun" (Jordan) was used on Umayyad post-reform copper coins beginning in the early 8th century and represent the earliest official usage of the name adopted in the 20th century for the modern state. Additionally, lead seals with the Arabic phrase "Halahil Ardth Al-Urdun" (Master of the Land of Jordan), dating from the late 7th to early 8th century CE, have been found in Jordan as well. Additionally, Arab-Byzantine "Standing Caliph" coins minted under the Umayyads also have been found bearing the mint-mark of "Amman". Thus, usage of the names Al-Urdun/Jordan and Amman date back to at least the early decades of the Arab-Muslim takeover of the region.

Under the Umayyad's successors, the Abbasids (750–1258), Jordan was neglected and began to languish due to the geopolitical shift that occurred when the Abassids moved their capital from Damascus to Kufa and later to Baghdad.

After the decline of the Abbasids, parts of Jordan were ruled by various powers and empires including the Crusaders, the Ayyubids, the Mamluks as well as the Ottomans, who captured most of the Arab world around 1517.

In 1516, Ottoman forces invaded the Levant and gained control. [6] Agricultural villages in Jordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned. [7] For the next centuries, Ottoman rule in the region, at times, was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits. [7] This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (1803–1812), an ultraorthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd in Saudi Arabia. Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out Wahhabi power in a successful campaign between 1811 and 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule, whose oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful Peasants' revolt in Palestine in 1834. Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha's forces for harboring a fled Palestinian revolt leader. Egyptian rule was later forcibly ended after western intervention, the Ottoman rule was restored. Russian persecution of Sunni Muslim Circassians in Circassia, forced their immigration into the region in 1867, where they today form a small part of the country's ethnic fabric. [8] Oppression and neglect for the people of the region forced the population to decline, the only people left were nomadic Bedouins. [9] Urban settlements with small populations included Al-Salt, Irbid, Jerash and Al-Karak. [10] What added to the under-development of the urban life in Jordan was the fact that the settlements were raided by the Bedouins as a source of living, the urbanites had to pay them to stay safe. [11] Jordan's location lies in a route that is taken by Muslims going on pilgrimage to Mecca this helped the population economically when the Ottomans constructed the Hejaz Railway linking Mecca and Istanbul in 1910. Ottoman oppression provoked the region's Bedouin tribes, such as the Adwan, Bani Hassan, Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat, to revolt, Most notable revolts were the Shoubak revolt and the Karak revolt, they were only suppressed with great difficulty. [8]

After four centuries of stagnant Ottoman rule (1516–1918), Turkish control over Transjordan came to an end during World War I when the Hashemite Army of the Great Arab Revolt, took over and secured present-day Jordan with the help and support of the region's local Bedouin tribes, Circassians and Christians. [12] The revolt was launched by the Hashemites and led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire. This came due to the emergence of Arab nationalism and resentment towards the Ottoman authorities. [9] The revolt was supported by the Allies of World War I including Britain and France. [13]

With the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the League of Nations and the occupying powers, Britain and France, redrew the borders of the Middle East. Their decisions, most notably the Sykes–Picot Agreement, led to the establishment of the French Mandate for Syria and British Mandate for Palestine. The latter included the territory of Transjordan, which had been allocated to Abdullah I of Jordan approximately a year prior to the finalization of the Mandate document (the Mandate officially introduced in 1923). [ citation needed ]

One reason was that the British government had at that point to find a role for Abdullah, after his brother Faisal had lost his control in Syria. Following the French occupation of only the northern part of the Syrian Kingdom, Transjordan was left in a period of interregnum. A few months later, Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein, arrived into Transjordan. Faisal was subsequently given the role of the king of Iraq. The British consequently made Abdullah emir of the newly created Transjordan. At first, Abdullah was displeased with the territory given to him, and hoped it was only a temporary allocation, to be replaced by Syria or Palestine. [14] The Permanent Court of International Justice and an International Court of Arbitration established by the Council of the League of Nations handed down rulings in 1925 which determined that Palestine and Transjordan were newly created successor states of the Ottoman Empire as defined by international law. [15]

The most serious threats to Emir Abdullah's position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory. [16] The emir was powerless to repel those raids by himself, thus the British maintained a military base, with a small air force, at Marka, close to Amman. [16]

In 1928, Britain officially provided King Abdullah with full autonomy, though the British RAF continued to provide security to the emirate. [ citation needed ]

The Emirate of Transjordan had a population of 200,000 in 1920, 225,000 in 1922 and 400,000 (as Kingdom) in 1948. [17] Almost half of the population in 1922 (around 103,000) was nomadic. [17]

Establishment Edit

On 17 January 1946 the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, announced in a speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations that the British Government intended to take steps in the near future to establish Transjordan as a fully independent and sovereign state. [18] The Treaty of London was signed by the British Government and the Emir of Transjordan on 22 March 1946 as a mechanism to recognise the full independence of Transjordan upon ratification by both countries' parliaments. Transjordan's impending independence was recognized on April 18, 1946 by the League of Nations during the last meeting of that organization. On 25 May 1946 the Transjordan became the "Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan" when the ruling 'Amir' was re-designated as 'King' by the parliament of Transjordan on the day it ratified the Treaty of London. 25 May is still celebrated as independence day in Jordan although legally the mandate for Transjordan ended on 17 June 1946 when, in accordance with the Treaty of London, the ratifications were exchanged in Amman and Transjordan gained full independence. [19] When King Abdullah applied for membership in the newly formed United Nations, his request was vetoed by the Soviet Union, citing that the nation was not "fully independent" of British control. This resulted in another treaty in March 1948 with Britain in which all restrictions on sovereignty were removed. Despite this, Jordan was not a full member of the United Nations until December 14, 1955.

In April 1949, after the country gained control of the West Bank, the country's official name became the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan". [20] [21]

1948 War and annexation of the West Bank Edit

Transjordan was one of the Arab states opposed to the second partition of Palestine and creation of Israel in May 1948. It participated in the war between the Arab states and the newly founded State of Israel. Thousands of Palestinians fled the Arab-Israeli fighting to the West Bank and Jordan. The Armistice Agreements of 3 April 1949 left Jordan in control of the West Bank and provided that the armistice demarcation lines were without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a plan for the future government of Palestine which called for termination of the Mandate not later than 1 August 1948.

The works of Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, Mary Wilson, Eugene Rogan, and other historians outline a modus vivendi agreement between Abdullah and the Yishuv. Those works are taught in most Israeli university courses on the history, political science, and sociology of the region. [22] Archival materials reveal that the parties had negotiated the non-belligerent partition of Palestine between themselves, and that initially they had agreed to abide by the terms of the UN resolution. John Baggot Glubb, the commander of the Arab Legion, wrote that British Foreign Secretary Bevin had given the green light for the Arab Legion to occupy the territory allocated to the Arab state. The Prime Minister of Transjordan explained that Abdullah had received hundreds of petitions from Palestinian notables requesting protection upon the withdrawal of the British forces. Eugene Rogan says that those petitions, from nearly every town and village in Palestine, are preserved in The Hashemite Documents: The Papers of Abdullah bin al-Husayn, volume V: Palestine 1948 (Amman 1995). [23]

After the mandate was terminated, the armed forces of Transjordan entered Palestine. The Security Council adopted a US-backed resolution that inquired about the number and disposition of Transjordan's armed forces in Palestine. The Foreign Minister of Transjordan replied in a telegram "that neither the UN nor US recognized Transjordan, although they both had been given the opportunity for more than two years. Yet the US had recognized the Jewish state immediately, although the factors for this recognition were lacking." [24]

In explaining to the Security Council why Transjordan's armed forces had entered Palestine, Abdullah said: "we were compelled to enter Palestine to protect unarmed Arabs against massacres similar to those of Deir Yassin." [25]

After capturing the West Bank during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Abdullah was proclaimed King of Palestine by the Jericho Conference. The following year, Jordan annexed the West Bank.

The United States extended de jure recognition to the government of Transjordan and the government of Israel on the same day, 31 January 1949. [26] Clea Bunch said that "President Truman crafted a balanced policy between Israel and its moderate Hashemite neighbours when he simultaneously extended formal recognition to the newly created state of Israel and the Kingdom of Transjordan. These two nations were inevitably linked in the President's mind as twin emergent states: one serving the needs of the refugee Jew, the other absorbing recently displaced Palestinian Arabs. In addition, Truman was aware of the private agreements that existed between Jewish Agency leaders and King Abdullah I of Jordan. Thus, it made perfect sense to Truman to favour both states with de jure recognition." [27]

In 1978, the U.S. State Department published a memorandum of conversation between Mr. Stuart W. Rockwell of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs and Abdel Monem Rifai, a Counselor of the Jordan Legation, on 5 June 1950. Mr. Rifai asked when the United States was going to recognize the union of Arab Palestine and Jordan. Mr. Rockwell explained the Department's position, stating that it was not the custom of the United States to issue formal statements of recognition every time a foreign country changed its territorial area. The union of Arab Palestine and Jordan had been brought about as a result of the will of the people and the US accepted the fact that Jordanian sovereignty had been extended to the new area. Mr. Rifai said he had not realized this and that he was very pleased to learn that the US did in fact recognize the union. [28]

Jordan was admitted as a member state of the United Nations on 14 December 1955. [29]

On 24 April 1950, Jordan formally annexed the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) [30] declaring "complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union in one state… at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Hussain". [31] All West Bank residents were granted Jordanian citizenship. The December 1948 Jericho Conference, a meeting of prominent Palestinian leaders and King Abdullah, voted in favor of annexation into what was then Transjordan. [32]

Jordan's annexation was regarded as illegal and void by the Arab League and others. It was recognized by Britain, Iraq and Pakistan. [33] [34] [35] The annexation of the West Bank more than doubled the population of Jordan. [36] Both Irbid and Zarqa more than doubled their population from less than 10,000 each to more than, respectively, 23,000 and 28,000. [17]

Reign of King Hussein Edit

King Abdullah's eldest son, Talal of Jordan, was proclaimed king in 1951, but he was declared mentally unfit to rule and deposed in 1952. His son, Hussein Ibn Talal, became king on his eighteenth birthday, in 1953.

The 1950s have been labelled as a time of "Jordan's Experiment with Liberalism". Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association were guaranteed in the newly written constitution as with the already firmly established freedom of religion doctrine. Jordan had one of the freest and most liberal societies in the Middle East and in the greater Arab world during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Jordan ended its special defense treaty relationship with the United Kingdom and British troops completed their withdrawal in 1957. In February 1958, following announcement of the merger of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic, Iraq and Jordan announced the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan, also known as the Arab Union. The Union was dissolved in August 1958.

In 1965 Jordan and Saudi Arabia concluded a bilateral agreement that realigned the border. The realignment resulted in some exchange of territory, and Jordan's coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba was lengthened by about eighteen kilometers. The new boundary enabled Jordan to expand its port facilities and established a zone in which the two parties agreed to share petroleum revenues equally if oil were discovered. The agreement also protected the pasturage and watering rights of nomadic tribes inside the exchanged territories.

Jordan signed a mutual defense pact in May 1967 with Egypt, and it participated, along with Syria, Egypt, and Iraq in the Six-Day War of June 1967 against Israel. During the war, Israel took control of East Jerusalem and West Bank, leading to another major influx of Palestinian refugees into Jordan. Its Palestinian refugee population—700,000 in 1966—grew by another 300,000 from the West Bank. The result of the 29 August 1967 Arab League summit was the Khartoum Resolution, which according to Abd al Azim Ramadan, left only one option -a war with Israel. [37]

The period following the 1967 war saw an upsurge in the power and importance of Palestinian militants (fedayeen) in Jordan. Other Arab governments attempted to work out a peaceful solution, but by September 1970, known as the Black September in Jordan, continuing fedayeen actions in Jordan — including the destruction of three international airliners hijacked and held in the desert east of Amman — prompted the Jordanian government to take action. In the ensuing heavy fighting, a Syrian tank force took up positions in northern Jordan to support the fedayeen but was forced to retreat. By September 22, Arab foreign ministers meeting at Cairo had arranged a cease-fire beginning the following day. Sporadic violence continued, however, until Jordanian forces won a decisive victory over the fedayeen in July 1971, expelling them from the country.

An attempted military coup was thwarted in 1972. No fighting occurred along the 1967 cease-fire line during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, but Jordan sent a brigade to Syria to fight Israeli units on Syrian territory.

In 1974, King Hussein recognised the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. However, in 1986, Hussein severed political links with the PLO and ordered its main offices to be closed. In 1988, Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank but retained an administrative role pending a final settlement. Hussein also publicly backed the Palestinian uprising, or First Intifada, against Israeli rule.

Jordan witnessed some of the most severe protests and social upheavals in its history during the 1980s, protests in Jordanian universities especially Yarmouk University and urban areas protested inflation and lack of political freedom. A massive upheaval occurred in the southern city of Ma'an. There was rioting in several cities over price increases in 1989. The same year saw the first general election since 1967. It was contested only by independent candidates because of the ban on political parties in 1963. Martial law was lifted and a period of rapid political liberalization began. Parliament was restored and some thirty political parties, including the Islamic Action Front, were created.

Jordan did not participate directly in the Gulf War of 1990–91, but it broke with the Arab majority and supported the Iraqi position of Saddam Hussein. This position led to the temporary repeal of U.S. aid to Jordan. As a result, Jordan came under severe economic and diplomatic strain. After the Iraqi defeat in 1991, Jordan, along with Syria, Lebanon, and Palestinian representatives, agreed to participate in direct peace negotiations with Israel sponsored by the U.S. and Russia. Eventually, Jordan negotiated an end to hostilities with Israel and signed a declaration to that effect on July 25, 1994 the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was concluded on October 26, 1994, ending 46-year official state of war.

Food price riots occurred in 1996, after subsidies were removed under an economic plan supervised by the International Monetary Fund. By the late 1990s, Jordan's unemployment rate was almost 25%, while nearly 50% of those who were employed were on the government payroll. The 1997 parliamentary elections were boycotted by several parties, associations and leading figures.

In 1998, King Hussein was treated for lymphatic cancer in the United States. After six months of treatment he returned home to a rousing welcome in January 1999. Soon after, however, he had to fly back to the US for further treatment. King Hussein died in February 1999. More than 50 heads of state attended his funeral. His eldest son, Crown Prince Abdullah, succeeded to the throne. [38]

Reign of King Abdullah II Edit

Economy Edit

In March 2001, King Abdullah and presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt inaugurated a $300m (£207m) electricity line linking the grids of the three countries. In September 2002, Jordan and Israel agreed on a plan to pipe water from the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea. The project, costing $800m, is the two nations' biggest joint venture to date. King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the Wahdah Dam project at a ceremony on the Yarmuk River in February 2004.

Foreign relations Edit

Jordan has sought to remain at peace with all of its neighbors. In September 2000, a military court sentenced six men to death for plotting attacks against Israeli and US targets. Following the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in September 2000, Amman withdrew its ambassador to Israel for four years. In 2003, Jordan's Central Bank retracted an earlier decision to freeze accounts belonging to leaders of Hamas. When senior US diplomat Laurence Foley was gunned down outside his home in Amman in October 2002, in the first assassination of a Western diplomat in Jordan, scores of political activists were rounded up. Eight militants were later found guilty and executed in 2004. King Abdullah did, however, criticise the United States and Israel over the conflict in Lebanon in 2006.

Politics Edit

Jordan's gradual institution of political and civil liberty has continued, but the slow pace of reform has led to increasing discontent. Following the death of a youth in custody, riots erupted in the southern town of Maan in January 2002, the worst public disturbances in more than three years.

The first parliamentary elections under King Abdullah II were held in June 2003. Independent candidates loyal to the king won two-thirds of the seats. A new cabinet was appointed in October 2003 following the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. Faisal al-Fayez was appointed prime minister. The king also appointed three female ministers. However, in April 2005, amid reports of the king's dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reforms, the government resigned and a new cabinet was sworn in, led by Prime Minister Adnan Badran.

The first local elections since 1999 were held in July 2007. The main opposition party, the Islamist Action Front, withdrew after accusing the government of vote-rigging. The parliamentary elections of November 2007 strengthened the position of tribal leaders and other pro-government candidates. Support for the opposition Islamic Action Front declined. Political moderate Nader Dahabi was appointed prime minister.

In November 2009, the King once more dissolved parliament halfway through its four-year term. The following month, he appointed a new premier to push through economic reform. A new electoral law was introduced May 2010, but pro-reform campaigners said it did little to make the system more representational. The parliamentary elections of November 2010 were boycotted by the opposition Islamic Action Front. Riots broke out after it was announced that pro-government candidates had won a sweeping victory.

Arab Spring Edit

On 14 January, the Jordanian protests began in Jordan's capital Amman, and at Ma'an, Al Karak, Salt and Irbid, and other cities. The following month, King Abdullah appointed a new prime minister, former army general Marouf Bakhit, and charged him with quelling the protests whilst carrying out political reforms. The street protests continued through the summer, albeit on a smaller scale, prompting the King to replace Bakhit with Awn al-Khasawneh, a judge at the International Court of Justice (October 2011). However, Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh resigned abruptly after just six months having been unable to satisfy either the demands for reform or allay establishment fears of empowering the Islamist opposition. King Abdullah appointed former prime minister Fayez al-Tarawneh to succeed him.

In October 2012, King Abdullah called for early parliamentary elections, to be held at some time in 2013. The Islamic Action Front, continued in its calls for broader political representation and a more democratic parliament. The King appointed Abdullah Ensour, a former minister and vocal advocate of democratic reform, as prime minister.

Mass demonstrations took place in Amman (November 2012) against the lifting of fuel subsidies. Public calls for the end of the monarchy were heard. Clashes between protesters and supporters of the king followed. The government reversed the fuel price rise following the protest. [39] Al Jazeera stated that protests are expected to continue for several weeks because of increasing food prices. [39]

Arab Winter Edit

With the rapid expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant into northern and eastern Iraq in summer of 2014, Jordan became threatened by the radical Jihadist organization, boosting troops on the Iraqi and Syrian borders.

Jerash - Chronology

Jerash - Chronology

7th millennium BC
The earliest verifiable settlement - piles of Neolithic flint tools were found east of the Hippodrome and the Hadrian Arch.

About 2500 BC
Dolmen and a village from the early Bronze Age in the northeast of the valley

3rd century BC
First historically documented mention of Garshu, as its original Semitic name was, during the reign of Ptolemaios II Philadelphos (ruled 285 - 246 BC), when the place was a Ptolemaic stronghold.

2nd century BC
When the Seleucid Antiochos IV (ruled 175 - 164) reigned the area, the place was renamed in Antioch on the Chrysorhoas. Chrysorhoas = gold river, was the name of today's Wadi Jerash.

63 BC
With the conquests under the general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106 - 48 BC), Rome and then the Eastern Roman Empire also gained power in Transjordan for several centuries. Antioch on the Chrysorhoas is renamed Gerasa, the Hellenized version of the ancient Semitic name Garshu, and becomes part of the Roman Provincia Syria. Pompeius recognized the (relative) autonomy of a number of Hellenized cities, which later formed a community of interests, known as the Decapolis (a term that only emerged 100 years later) and to which the city of Gerasa belonged as well.

2nd century AD
Gerasa became prosperous particularly through agriculture on the fertile soils of the surrounding area, and iron ore mining in the hilly region of Ajloun. Like other Decapolis cities, Gerasa benefited from the expansion policy of the Roman Emperor Trajan (ruled 98 - 117 AD), who sealed the end of the Nabataean kingdom in 106 AD, incorporating it into the Provincia Arabia. In the following years, new trade routes emerged, such as the Via Nova Traiana, completed in the year 114, a 430 km long north-south connection between Bostra in the Hauran region and Ayla on the Gulf of Aqaba.

In 129/130, Emperor Hadrian stayed in Gerasa, and probably also conferred honorary rights on the city. In the following decades the building activity increased strongly. The street grid with a main axis in north-south direction (slightly tilted) crossed by east-west axes, originated about 170 AD, during the city's heyday. At the turn of the 3rd century, Gerasa could have reached up to 25,000 inhabitants.

3rd / 4th century
Turbulent times began in the 3rd century, and the building activity in Gerasa stopped to a large extent. The Roman Empire was shaken by internal struggles, and in its Eastern regions it was confronted, time and again, with military clashes with the Sasanian Empire (Persia).
From 390 to the Mid-4th century, the city wall -started between 50 and 75 AD- was fortified and extended. It used to enclose the ancient Gerasa on both banks of the Wadi Jerash, and was 3460 m long.

5th / 6th century
In the Byzantine Era, Christian sacred buildings were built throughout Jordan, but nowhere as splendid and numerous as in Gerasa, however older buildings were exploited for this purpose. The oldest church is the so-called cathedral, built 450-455 AD. Most of the church buildings in Gerasa date from the 6th century. The archaeologists have found a total of 19.

7th / 8th century
In 614 Gerasa was conquered by the Sassanids until they were defeated by the troops of the Byzantine ruler Heraclius in 629.
With the victory of the Muslim army in the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Era ended in Transjordan, announcing the dawn of an Islamic Era.
Although there was some destruction in Gerasa during the conquests, it was a plague outbreak that most affected the city.
Gerasa continued existing, and was able to maintain certain prosperity through ceramic manufacture and its trade, among other things. Until the first half of the 8th century, numerous buildings were repurposed and new Umayyad buildings arose.
After the devastating earthquake of 747, the inhabitants abandoned the city. Medieval sources describe Gerasa as deserted.

The German traveler Ulrich Jasper Seetzen visited Gerasa and expressed his enthusiasm about the ruins.

On the orders of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, Circassian people are settled in Gerasa, who used elements and materials from the ancient buildings to build their houses in the east of the city. But the part on the western bank of the river remained almost unoccupied and therefore well preserved.

The systematic archaeological research of Gerasa began with several years of Anglo-American excavations under the direction of Carl Hermann Kraeling.

The Ancient Greco-Roman Ruins of Historic Jerash in Jordan

Gerasa, also referred to Antioch on the Golden River, was one of ancient Rome’s ten cities of the Decapolis on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities of the Decapolis were:

  1. Philadelphia (Amman, Jordan)
  2. Gerasa (Jerash, Jordan)
  3. Pella (Pella , Jordan)
  4. Scythopolis (Beth-She’an, Israel)
  5. Gadara (Umm Qays, Jordan)
  6. Hippos (Hippus or Sussita, Israel)
  7. Dion (Beit Ras, Jordan)
  8. Raphana (Raphana, Jordan)
  9. anatha (El Qanawat, Syria)
  10. Damascus (Damascus, Syria)

Colonnaded Street in Jerash

Meanwhile back in Neolithic times…

Excavations in these Greco-Roman Ruins have proven that human beings have inhabited the area that Jerash occupies for well over 6, 500 years now. Thousands of years later we are left with some of the best preserved ruins from the Roman Empire outside of Rome itself. Walking around the ruins transported me into my imagination and I felt like a child, daydreaming about days gone by. I was thinking of what it must have been like during the time that the structures in front of me were not ruins, but rather an impressive and vibrant city alive with the sounds, smells, and sights that must have been absolutely extraordinary.

You can still see the chariot wheel tracks in the cobblestone streets like in the photo above and there are still other structures and massive mosaics in some of the buildings that are being excavated, giving you a sense of the way life was lived all those centuries ago. Some of the buildings like the south Theater are quite well preserved and restored, while there are others that leave a lot to the imagination. In some cases you can see piles of stones that have been dug up and are waiting to be put back together like a giant puzzle. This painstaking work takes a lot of effort, time and money, as well as the dedication of archeologists that specialize in this sort of thing. Just from walking around the old city for a few hours, I could see that there were a lot more areas that were just begining to be worked on and I’m excited to learn what other treasures are found in the years ahead.

The partially restored Hippodrome

Hip hip hooray for the Gerasa circus!

One of the things to do at the historic site of Jerash is watching the reenactment of the chariot races, military processions and gladiatorial games in the Hippodrome. Once again my imagination took control, pondering what it would have been like to attend a real spectacle when the Hippodrome was in its shining glory back in the third century AD. At 245m long and 52m wide there was ample seating for close to 15, 000 spectators.

The Circus (or Hippodrome) was originally constructed during Emperor Hadrian’s rule between the years 117-138 AD. Excavations show that it was built over an earlier Greek style race track. In many places in the old city of Jerash you can see where the Romans built on, over, or expanded the earlier work of the Greeks, who built their streets and buildings centuries before the arrival of the Romans.

Hadrians Arch at the entrance of Jerash

Publius Aelius Trajanus Hadrianus Augustus… A name fit for an Emperor

The Arch of Hadrian (pictured above) was buit in 129AD to honour the Emperor for visiting the city of Gerasa. Hadrian and I seem to have at least 2 things in common. We both ruled over vast empires, were adored by our people, and controlled massive armies that would follow us in to battle and follow our every command without hesitation. Hadrian in reality, and me in my dreams. ) Secondly and most importantly, we both love to travel! During his reign Hadrian visited every single province in the Empire. With an empire that stretched from northern England to Egypt, that involved a lot of travel!

Good times, bad times

The ancient city of Jerash reached a size of about 800,000 square metres within its walls. Within those walls many of the more elaborate buildings that were constructed were donated to the city by it’s wealthiest citizens. Seems that some of the wealthiest of our citizens today could take a lesson from that page in history. We always seem to read the history that tells the tales of wars and the darker times in human civilization, so I find it refreshing to read and hear the stories about kind, generous people from ancient times.

Throughout it’s history, Jerash’s population rose and declined with many different factors affecting the growth of the city. Persians invaded in 614 AD, there was a major earthquake in 749 AD, and during the Crusade years much of the city was converted into fortresses. All of these events changed the face of the once flourishing city, but the people of Jerash were a resilient group. There still were settlements in Jerash until the Ottoman period and since the 1920’s the whole area has been under excavation and new archeological discoveries are still being made.

To get the best experience in Jerash I would highly recommend hiring one of the official guides from the site. While Khaled, my intrepid host from the Jordan Tourism Board , was very knowledgable about the history of the country, it was nice to get a guide who had so much detail to share with me about Jerash. At time it was a bit overwhelming since I was trying to concentrate on taking photos and listen to the interesting history lesson I was being given. My Jerash guide did a great job of keeping us entertained and informed, he had a great sense of humour and took extra time for me to be able to get my photos.

Be prepared to spend several hours touring the ruins in Jerash, it’s worth taking your time, especially if you’re a history buff. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen as there is very little shaded areas.

I was expecting some great things from Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea and they sure did not disappoint, but Jerash was that unexpected treasure that I just love finding on my travels. I feel fortunate to have had such great support from the Jordan Tourism Board on the trip around the country, I learned a lot about the culture and history of a place that I must admit I knew little about.

One of the best parts of my job is getting a chance to explore so many incredible places and it makes me thirst for more adventures. I hope that I can get back to Jordan one day to continue exploring this fascinating part of the world that is so rich in history and culture. I feel like I just got a taste and I’m now eager to get a second helping. I think you’ll feel the same way when you go to Jordan.

The main colonnaded avenue in Jerash

My gratitude to the team at Royal Jordanian for getting me to Jordan in style!

The Archaeology of the Roman City of Jerash, Jordan

A major Roman City in Jordan, Jerash’s archaeology is amongst the best preserved in the empire. Its public Roman architecture reveals how the city evolved.

Jerash in modern Jordan was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis. Founded by the Seleucids on a site occupied from prehistoric times, it became a Roman city in 63AD.

Jerash’s history can be read in its archaeological remains, which are excellent owing to its long abandonment. Many of its classical Roman civic features have been excavated. They show the development of Jerash as a Roman town and how it maintained its Syrian character.

An Ancient City of Jerash

Situated 48km north of Jordan’s capital Amman, the area around Jerash was occupied from prehistoric times. Archaeologists have found evidence of the earliest settlement around the area of the south gate. It is estimated that this early site dates to around 1600BC or the mid Bronze Age.

The city of Gerash or Gerasa as it was known was first built by the Seleucids in 170BC. Established in what became the south of the Roman city, it was centred on the mound of the temple of Zeus. But the city was not merely a Greek colony. Coins and inscriptions in both Greek and Nabatean show that these eastern traders had a considerable influence in the city.

Jerash became a Roman city in 63AD and its expansion began. By the second century AD, one hundred hectares were contained within its city walls.

Although it began to decline in the mid third century, Jerash still remained an important Christian city, maintaining its prosperity with farming, mining and trade. Its ultimate decline began in the seventh century when it was taken by the Arabs and the city was abandoned.

Unlike many ancient cities, the city was not resettled until 1878. This meant that the ancient buildings were left to the elements and not robbed of their stone. This has allowed archaeologists to reconstruct a picture of the buildings from the remains left on the site.

Roman Temples

Jerash had a number of temples. Many were dedicated to Greco roman deities such as Nemesis. In many cases, these deities were to Hellenised versions of local gods. Dionysus, for instance is believed to have been affiliated with the Nabataean god Dusares.

Of the temples in the city, the best preserved and studied are the temples of Zeus and Artemis.

Temple of Zeus-Set on a mound overlooking the oval forum and the southern entrance to Jerash, the temple of Zeus marked the central point of the Hellenistic city. Three identifiable phases have been excavated. The first two were built in the early first century AD. Inscriptions from these phases show that the rebuilding work was financed from substantial donations made by local traders-a testament to Jerash’s prosperity.

The remains on the site today date to Jerash’s Roman revamp in the second century AD. Although the temple itself was built on a natural hill, its sacred precinct was artificial and supported on a series of vaults that still survive today. The Roman redesign preserved the Syrian design and layout of the temple, indicating the continued importance of the local population.

Temple of Artemis-Artemis may have been the daughter of Zeus in Greece but in Gerash she was the patron deity of the city. This suggests that the Artemis of Jerash was in fact a Syrian deity in disguise from Jerash’s pre Seleucid days.

The sanctuary of Artemis was much larger than that of Zeus. It was also the first to be renovated in the second century. Work began in 150AD. Little remains of the naos or house of the goddess within the temple although archaeologists have deduced it was lined with marble. Hooks have been found on the inner walls that would have held the slabs in place before they were removed to nearby Christian churches.

But the Christians did not destroy Artemis’s complex as they had other pagan temples elsewhere. This was left to nature. But the vast temenos and its monumental entrance of propylaea still remain, giving a good idea of the extent and grandeur of the sanctuary in its heyday.

The Roman Theatres

Jerash had two Roman theatres which were not only dedicated to entertainment but also the government of the city.

The South theatre. Built in 90s AD, this is the oldest theatre in Jerash. The theatre was completed in the early second century AD. Designed purely for entertainment, it is one of the most impressive of its type. It had the capacity to seat around three thousand people. The lower rows of seats were numbered, suggesting that some of those seats were available for reservation-or naturally reserved for the local dignitaries who inscriptions once again record as funding the building work.

Northern Theatre. Built during the Roman redesign of the city in the 160s AD, the north theatre is smaller than its southern counterpart. Its lower seats are marked in Greek with the names of the cities voting tribes, suggesting it may have operated as a council chamber.

By the third century, its function had changed. More upper rows were constructed, expanding its capacity to 1600 people. The orchestra was also decorated with reliefs of women and boys dancing and making music, suggesting its function was now one of entertainment.

Other Roman Architecture

The City Walls. The original walls of Jerash were a metre thick. They were strengthened until they were three metres thick in the fourth century AD as a reflection of the instability of the empire.

The Arch of Hadrian. A roman triumphal arch built outside of the southern extent of the city, the arch of Hadrian was built in 130AD to commemorate the visit of the emperor Hadrian. The arch’s sides remained untrimmed, suggesting it was designed to fit within new city walls. Abutments were later added when the walls were never built indicating that the Romans may have planned to expand Jerash but that those plans never came off.

The Ruins of Jerash

There are a few places in the world where one has the opportunity to see history re-inacted, but only in the ancient hippodrome of Jerash can you witness chariots race or gladiators in full regalia clash on the site where Roman athletes and warriors one walked and fought.

Hidden for hundreds of years under the shifting sands of Jordan, picturesque ruins are all that remains of a once-great ancient city that saw the likes of Alexander the Great, the emperors Trajan and Hadrian, and the mathematician Nichomachas.

Most of the ancient city of Gerasa was destroyed in an earthquake in 749 AD, leading to comparisons to another great Roman city: Pompeii. The ruins were re-discovered in 1806 by German explorer Ulrich Jasper Seetzen.

Today it is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Middle East, and is a popular destination for those who would like to witness the majesty of Roman architecture, marvel at extraordinarily well preserved mosaics and carvings, and to see full-speed horse-drawn chariot races.

The Jerash Heritage Company puts on daily spectacles known as the “ Roman Army and Chariot Experience” , with 45 “legionaries” in showing off battle tactics in armor, gladiators battling, and a seven lap race in Roman chariots.


In AD 749, the ancient city of Jerash was hit by a devastating earthquake. Excavating private houses that collapsed during the disaster has revealed a wealth of information about the Umayyad city. These, though, are just some of the finds encountered during recent archaeological work in the north-western part of the site, as Achim Lichtenberger, Eva Mortensen, and Rubina Raja reveal.

The ruins of Jerash seen from the north-western part of the city, where a Danish-German team have shed new light on activity in this so-called ‘peripheral’ area. In the foreground are the remains of the Synagogue Church, and to the left is the large Artemis Temple. To the right is the South Theatre and the Oval Piazza, and in-between is the Temple of Zeus. [ALL IMAGES: The Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project, unless otherwise state]

It is winter. The kitchen is humming with activity, as sheep’s wool is prepared for textile production and fires are kept up. The sheep have already been sheared with large iron scissors, and now the wool is being combed, while the fibres are softened and dyed. The household is busy. One member gets out a large iron ladle to stir either the soaked fibres or the coals in the fire. Another inhabitant heads upstairs to find the wooden spindles and the matching clay and rock-crystal whorls, so that they are ready for spinning the fibres.

At the bottom of the photograph is a lead container that encased a silver scroll (shown at the top). This scroll was unfolded digitally to reveal 17 rows of pseudo-Arabic letters, which do not have a coherent meaning, but belong to the Graeco-Roman tradition of magical texts.

The kitchen is a rather large room, which covers about 17m 2 . Set into the floor in a corner are two column drums, one of which works as a crusher. On the opposite side of the room, a hearth sits on the stone floor, with cooking pots, jugs, and jars as well as fine-ware bowls arranged nearby. From the kitchen area, it is possible to enter another room, which gives access to the upper storey. Ascending the stairs would lead to walls decorated with paintings and stucco profiles, while the owners’ belongings placed here include, among other things, fine glass bottles, lamps, a small lead mirror, a belt, jewellery, a purse containing a collection of old coins, and a wooden casket. The casket contains scrap: fragments of broken metal saved for later reuse. Careful inspection might also reveal a lead case holding a thin and well-hidden rolled-up silver scroll engraved with undecipherable pseudo-Arabic letters – a magic spell. Only its owner knows whether it is meant to ward off illness, act as an amulet protecting the family, or bring harm to somebody.

A section of a large trough containing thousands of already cut white tesserae, still waiting to be used.

Next door, the neighbours are having their house refurbished. The sound of chipping echoes through its rooms, as craftspeople prepare tesserae for new mosaic floors. They have already finished a white, undecorated mosaic floor on the upper storey, while the walls are ready to receive a coat of plaster before being painted. A staircase leads down into an open courtyard, where a cistern collects rainwater channelled through pipes from the roof. Various rooms open off this space, some boasting arched doorways. In one of these abutting rooms, the mosaicists have cached white tesserae in a large trough. Thousands of these stone pieces have been cut and are now ready to be laid. Due to the renovation work, this part of the house has been vacated by its owners, who have stored most of their belongings elsewhere.

Both houses are, then, hives of activity. But suddenly, the mosaicists, painters, textile producers, and everyone else in the houses stop what they are doing. The ground has started moving and the walls are shaking ominously. Everyone attempts to flee. But when the limestone houses collapse, one person does not make it out alive.

A devastating earthquake

According to archaeological finds, this is a scenario that could have played out on 18 January AD 749 in a pair of Umayyad houses in Jerash, an ancient city located in present-day Jordan. Until the earthquake, Jerash, or Gerasa as it was called in antiquity, had been thriving. The city lies in what was then a very fertile region. To the north-west are the fecund Ajlun Highlands, while a region of basalt formation called Hauran lies to the north-east, and to the east are steppe deserts. The close surroundings of Gerasa were bountiful, and we know that the land was once intensively cultivated with flax, olives, and grapes, among other crops. Indeed, the hinterland hills still give the impression of being productive land, inviting images of how lush they must have been in Jerash’s heyday. The river Chrysorrhoas (meaning the Gold River) also ran through the city. It was spanned by at least five bridges, binding the two halves of the city together. Today, the river is known as simply ‘the wadi’, reflecting its somewhat diminished state, following both climate change and the toll taken by greater exploitation of water resources.

The city had prospered for many centuries before the earthquake struck. It is clear from the results of various excavations that a settlement of some form existed by the Hellenistic period, but today the city centre is dominated by structures dating to later eras, namely the Roman and Byzantine to early Islamic periods. It was during the early centuries AD in particular that a flourishing urban landscape took shape, boasting monumental public buildings, swathes of domestic housing, and sophisticated infrastructure. Gerasa also boasted productive pottery industries. While various types of fine ware were imported, for the most part the Gerasenes were patrons of local ceramic products, be they robust cooking pots or fashionable tableware. The city is renowned for manufacturing the so-called ‘Jerash bowls’ and ‘Jerash lamps’, which in addition to finding favour in the city, were also exported to surrounding regions. The Gerasenes also had a fondness for glass objects, with this material imported in its raw form, or as finished products. Late Antiquity saw a surge in the recycling of glass vessels, which were remelted before being blown into new forms. We can trace this industry via the contamination of the glass brought about by the fuel used to remelt it. Metals were also imported and reused, and, as in so many ancient urban centres, lead contamination can still be traced in the soils.

The city’s fortunes changed abruptly on that January day in AD 749. Buildings and colonnades came tumbling down as the earthquake forced the inhabitants from their homes. Numerous cities in the Middle East suffered extensive damage, and in Jerash urban life was never the same again. Large parts of the city were laid waste, prompting the survivors to try their luck elsewhere. At the time, Early Islamic Jerash was under Umayyad rule. However, turmoil and political unrest meant that the Umayyad caliphate was on its last legs, and in AD 750, the Abbasids overthrew it to become the new ruling class. Meanwhile, in Jerash most of the collapsed monuments and houses would never be re-erected. Indeed, evidence of settlement within the city walls is generally scarce from the mid-8th century onwards.

Refinding ancient Gerasa

Gerasa returned to prominence at the beginning of the 19th century, when its ruins were rediscovered. Soon afterwards, the site had become a regular destination on the itinerary of European travellers exploring the Middle East on their Grand Tours. The early travel accounts and photographs occasioned by such visits still provide us with valuable knowledge. This is in part because the ancient remains on the eastern side of the wadi have since been largely swallowed up by modern housing. But the early eye-witness testimonies are also important for describing the nature of the ruins before large-scale digging took place.

Organised archaeological excavations were initiated in the early 20th century. The 1920s and ’30s, brought a joint American and British expedition, with many buildings and complexes excavated, studied, and then published. This early work was mostly focused on the public structures situated along the main street, the so-called cardo, which leads through the city and runs almost parallel to the wadi. Since then, several archaeological missions have undertaken fieldwork in Jerash, uncovering workshop areas, private houses, public buildings, and religious structures.

Today, on the western side of the wadi, one of Jordan’s great tourist attractions can be experienced: half of an ancient city graced with a magnificent colonnaded street, two well-preserved theatres, a hippodrome, arches, a monumental sanctuary dedicated to Artemis and another large sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Olympios, a mosque, and numerous Christian churches. The Roman-period city wall is still partly standing, though sadly it is also being damaged by modern developments around the ancient site. When complete, this fortification stretched for about 4km (2.5 miles), encircling urban Gerasa. Several gates pierced the curtain, as did water gates, controlling the river traversing the city. It was within the wall, in what is known as the ‘Northwest Quarter’ – an area that has long been judged ‘peripheral’ – that work was underway in those two houses on that fateful day in AD 749. As it turned out, after the earthquake had passed, the collapsed structures would not be revisited until 2014.

The beginning of excavations in 2016. Trench V is laid out to investigate the House of the Tesserae further. The modern city and the Temple of Artemis are seen in the background. For little more than a month, soil is removed, finds are recorded, and structures are preliminarily interpreted.

This is an extract of an article that appeared in CWA 107. Read on in the magazine (Click here to subscribe) or on our new website, The Past, which offers all of the magazine’s content digitally. At The Past you will be able to read each article in full as well as the content of our other magazines, Current Archaeology, Minerva, and Military History Matters.


Often, when we were searching for photos of various ruins, we noticed that they stand in a parched landscape, and therefore the beauty of the ruins does not stand out as it could. We mean really on the photos, we know that seeing the ancient architecture in person is very different.

But it was not the case of Jerash in spring. The city is close to the Jordan Valley, the soil here is famous for its fertility, and the whole area was in bloom.

If we should recommend you the best time to visit Jordan, when the ruins are the most picturesque, based on our experience, it would be March till May as the flowers really highlighted the site's beauty.

But it is possible to visit Jerash in other months too, and we believe your experience will be similarly mind-blowing.

Summer in Jordan is hot, and because there is almost no shade, your time here can be a bit challenging (start early in the morning and then take a rest at noon). It also rarely rains. In autumn the high temperatures finally get to normal, and the country is a bit greener again, thanks to irregular rain.

Winter in Jerash is cold, it is the rainiest time of the year, but you can enjoy the visit the same as in other months, but it is recommended to arrive well-equipped.

What to pack when you visit Jerash ruins.

The site of the Jerash Roman ruins is large and fairly open, so take plenty of water and wear sunscreen , there is next to no shade at the site.

Wear decent shoes too, it’s quite amusing watching (in particular) fashionistas arriving in their ridiculous heels. The ground is uneven and cobbled – it’s an archaeological site! so just leave the strappy sandals, stilettos and flip flops at home. I wore tennis shoes – I was fine in this. But please, don’t be that idiot with regards to footwear.

Wear sunglasses too – even if it’s slightly overcast the stone is light in colour so the sun reflects off it. Alternatively, take a cap or hat with a wide brim.

There are only limited places to get food inside the ruins of Jerash, so pack plenty of snacks if you are planning on visiting for the whole day.

Watch the video: Джераш часть 2 - Иордания (June 2022).


  1. Pandarus

    I apologize, but I think you are wrong. Enter we'll discuss it.

  2. Aleksander

    This is the scandal!

  3. Voodoojin

    Which I didn't say.

  4. Faegore

    Me against.

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