If you have ever wondered what it would be like to wander the streets of an ancient Roman city, then Gerasa (Jerash) might be the place for you. Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. Ancient Greek inscriptions from the city as well as literary sources from both Iamblichus and the Etymologicum Magnum support that the city was founded by Alexander the Great or his general Perdiccas, who settled aged Macedonian soldiers there. The city finally reached a size of about 800,000 square meters within its walls. The Persian invasion in AD 614 caused the rapid decline of Jerash. In AD 749, a major earthquake destroyed much of Jerash and its surroundings.The ruins remained buried in the soil for hundreds of years until they were discovered by German Orientalist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806. In addition to the role of the people of old villages near Jerash, the process of building the modern city of Jerash was mainly done by the resettlement of Circassian Muslims by the Ottoman authorities; the Circassians came to Transjordan from the Caucasus after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.
The Madaba Map (also known as the Madaba Mosaic Map) is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. The Madaba Map is a map of the Middle East and associated holy places. It contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem. While modern maps are labeled as if you stand on the south pole and look north. The Madaba map is labeled from the north looking south. This means that the lettering of the map is upside down to how we would orient the map on paper. It is like looking at a map of the United States 180 degrees (upside down). The Madaba map is not to scale. Jerusalem is greatly enlarged and distances are greatly distorted to what we would expect from a map. But the map was for devotional purposes, not science and geography as we would like it to have been from a modern perspective. Nonetheless the map is extraordinarily precise, including many cities known from other sources.
The Jordan River originates from three main springs: Banyas in the Occupied Golan Heights, Dan in Israel, and Hasbani in Lebanon. The water of the Jordan River flows southward through Lake Hula towards Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee). The lower part of the river flows downstream of Lake Tiberias and joins the Yarmouk and Zarqa rivers, which spring from Syria and Jordan respectively. The river continues to flow southwards until it spills into the Dead Sea at approximately 400 metres below sea level. In truth, by the time the Jordan River reaches the Dead Sea, the river is dry and as a result, the Dead Sea is contracting. The entire length of the Jordan River is 360 kilometres with a surface catchment area of about 18,300 square kilometres. Forty percent of the water used in Israel comes from the Jordan River.
I have been traveling in the Middle East for some time now and because of poor internet connections, I have been posting mostly on social media. Now that I am in Jordan, the Internet is more reliable and I will be making short posts to which I will add future posts. Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, Petra is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan's most-visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Perhaps the most famous image of Petra is seen above, Al Khazneh (“The Treasury” or in Arabic: الخزنة) which appears rather magically as you walk down the narrow canyon or wadi to the main part of Petra.