Petra (Arabic: ٱلْبَتْرَاء, romanized: Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα, "Stone"), originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra is believed to have been settled as early as 9,000 BC, and it was possibly established in the 4th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra's proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.
The trading business gained the Nabataeans considerable revenue and Petra became the focus of their wealth. The earliest historical reference to Petra was an unsuccessful attack on the city ordered by Antigonus I in 312 BC and recorded by various Greek historians. The Nabataeans were, unlike their enemies, accustomed to living in the barren deserts, and were able to repel attacks by taking advantage of the area's mountainous terrain. They were particularly skillful in harvesting rainwater, agriculture and stone carving. Petra flourished in the 1st century AD, when its famous Khazneh structure – believed to be the mausoleum of Nabataean king Aretas IV – was constructed, and its population peaked at an estimated 20,000 inhabitants.
Although the Nabataean kingdom became a client state of the Roman Empire in the first century BC, it was only in 106 AD that it lost its independence. Petra fell to the Romans, who annexed Nabataea and renamed it as Arabia Petraea. Petra's importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after an earthquake in 363 destroyed many structures. In the Byzantine era several Christian churches were built, but the city continued to decline, and by the early Islamic era it was abandoned except for a handful of nomads. It remained unknown to the world until it was rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
The city is accessed through a 1.2-kilometre-long (0.75 mi) gorge called the Siq, which leads directly to the Khazneh. Famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system, Petra is also called the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. UNESCO has described it as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage". In 2007, Al-Khazneh was voted as one of the New7Wonders of the World. Petra is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan's most-visited tourist attraction. Tourist numbers peaked at 918,000 in 2010; but there followed a slump due to the political instability generated by the Arab Spring affecting countries surrounding Jordan. However, tourist numbers increased subsequently. About 800,000 tourists visited the site in 2018 and the figure exceeded the 1,000,000 mark for the first time ever in 2019 by the end of November.
When in 106 AD Trajan prepared his war against the Parthian he ordered Palma. Syria's governor. " to subdue the area around Petra" (Doin Cassius. LXVII. 14. 5). Thus the Nabataean kingdom was annexed without fight to the new Arabian province on exactly March 22. 106. Due to its location in an agriculturally developed region. Bosra was in the middle of a very populated area which seemed to be suitable for the foundation of military installations. And it was declared the capital of this new province. But Trajan also paid homages to Petra bu giving this city the name of honour "Metropolis". A Greek inscription on the steps of the great Agora gives evidence of this name. In the years between 111 and 114 he erected the "Via Nova Trajana" which ran from the Syrian borders to the Red Sea and led through Petra. This main street followed the old street;s lane of the Nabataean caravans. In the shadow of the pax romana it revived the trade between Arabia. Syria and the Mediterranean harbours. The legions, which succeeded in getting the Nabataean empire annexed. Were the "II. Gallica" and "VI. Ferrata" with department of the "III. Cyrenalika in the wall of Petra's Siq near the betyl of Dera. In 130 AD Emperor Hadrain visited the Nabataean capital and gove it the final name "Hadriane Petra Metroplis". Which is imprinted on his coins. His visit, however. Did not lead to an architectural boom as it did in Jerash. But the province's givernor. Sextius Florentinus. Erected amonumental mausoleum to his son. Near the end of the impressive al-Hubta tombs (king's wall). Which were generally reserved for the royal family. In 125 AD another of Hadrain's administrators left his marks in Petra as pointed out in the documents founds at dead Sea(wadi Hervir). The interest that the Roman emperors of the 3rd century showed in the city proves that Petra jordan remained highly esteemend for a long time. Thus an inscription to liber Pater . patron Saint of Septimus Severus (193 – 211 AD). Was found in the "Temenos" of Qasr el-Bint: and a Nabataean toms contains a silver coin with the emperor's portrait. as well pottery of his time. Emperor Elagabal ( 218 -222 AD ). Declared Petra as a "Roman colony". When at the end of the 3rd century he reorganized the empire. The area from Petra to Wadi mujib the Negev and a Petra to the Sinai were annexed again to the Provincial Palestine Tertia. It seems that Petra is also to be seen on the mosaic map of Madaba (in the time of Justinian. In the middle of the 6th century).
By 2010 BCE, some of the earliest recorded farmers had settled in Beidha, a Pre-Pottery Neolithic settlement just north of Petra. Petra is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. Though the city was founded relatively late, a sanctuary has existed there since very ancient times. Historian Josephus (ca. 37–100) describes the region as inhabited by the Midianite nation as early as 1340 BC, and that the nation was governed by five kings, whom he names: "Rekem; the city which bears his name ranks highest in the land of the Arabs and to this day is called by the whole Arabian nation, after the name of its royal founder, Rekeme: called Petra by the Greeks." The famed architecture of Petra, and other Nabataean sites were built during indigenous rule in early antiquity.
The Nabataeans were one among several nomadic Bedouin tribes that roamed the Arabian Desert and moved with their herds to wherever they could find pasture and water. They became familiar with their area as seasons passed, and they struggled to survive during bad years when seasonal rainfall diminished. Although the Nabataeans were initially embedded in Aramaic culture, theories about them having Aramean roots are rejected by modern scholars. Instead, archaeological, religious and linguistic evidence confirm that they are a northern Arabian tribe.
The Semitic name of the city, if not Sela, remains unknown. The passage in Diodorus Siculus (xix. 94–97) which describes the expeditions which Antigonus sent against the Nabataeans in 312 BC is understood to throw some light upon the history of Petra, but the "petra" (rock) referred to as a natural fortress and place of refuge cannot be a proper name and the description implies that the metropolis was not yet in existence, although its place was used by Arabians.
The name "Rekem" was inscribed in the rock wall of the Wadi Musa opposite the entrance to the Siq. However, Jordan built a bridge over the wadi and this inscription was buried beneath tons of concrete.