Petra - Ancient Center of Trade and Architecture

by Virginia Quach, age 13

The city of Petra is located in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. Before the first temples and tombs were built in 300 B.C. E. thick layers of rock surrounded the area. The city is the namesake of this rocky terrain, petra meaning rock.

Although the ancient Edomites were the first people to discover the region, it was the Nabataen people who built the city. Built at the intersection of a few bustling trade routes, Petra soon became wealthy. It was always busy with merchants from nearby lands like Egypt, Damascus, Arabia, and the Mediterranean. These trade relationships were crucial to the city's success and survival.

The city’s architecture reflected a mixture of Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman styles, and was conveniently built of mostly rock. Along with the architecture, designers of Petra installed a complex water system.

Petra's prosperity was at its peak in the centuries leading up to and just after the beginning of our common era. Up to 20,000 people lived in the city when it was at its peak. Petra eventually became part of the Roman province of Arabia in 106 A.C.E.

Even today, Roman architecture still characterizes the city. This includes a theater that can hold up to 3,000 people and the Colonnade Road. The Colonnade Road was lined with markets and public drinking fountains. In the fourth century A.C.E. the Christian Byzantine Empire took over Petra.

Today, we can still see the remnants of ancient life in Petra. Looking into the past, we can gain insight into how the world works today.

[Source: Simpson Street Free Press ]

Love the article, Virginia! Keep up the great work. – Mckenna Kohlenberg , Madison, WI (2014-06-11 21:33)