President Obama, Indiana Jones and Me!

President Obama was in the Middle East this week and visited the country of Jordan.  Along the way, he toured the ancient city of Petra – internationally voted on July 7, 2007 (7/7/07) as one of the “New7Wonders of the World.”

Built during the first century BC, Petra was identified by ancient writers as the Nabataean capital and center of their lucrative caravan trade business.  Surrounded by towering stone cliffs, it controlled the region’s main commercial north-south and east-west trade routes.  

Petra is entered through a mile-long water-worn natural gorge, called the Siq (al-Siq Arabic “the shaft”).  After being dammed up by the ancient inhabitants, it became the city’s main caravan entrance.

Called the “Rose Red City,” most of its 800 surviving structures were carved into and out of the red sandstone rock face of the surrounding cliffs – including “the Treasury” (Arabic Al Khazneh) directly inside the Siq.  Not originally created for a treasury or temple, it wasn’t even a public building, at all – or even a royal palace.  Instead, this edifice was carved as a tomb for one of the city’s wealthy first century AD residents.

The Nabataeans, an enigmatic Arab group of desert dwellers with Greek-influenced religious practices and an Aramean/Syrian-derived language and script, controlled this region for 500 years.   

In decline by the fifth century AD, Petra was reintroduced to the outside world again in 1812, when Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt visited the site (disguised as a local).

TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) successfully led a small group of Arabs in defending Petra against a much larger Turkish and German force in 1917.

The site was discovered again in 1989, by Indiana Jones, where he found the Holy Grail inside the Treasury – although I actually beat him there in 1979!

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director