Sunday, October 22, 2023
Water Systems that Once Turned Petra Green
The site of Petra, famed for its monumental rock-cut tombs and named one of UNESCO's 7 modern wonders of the world, is located in an arid part of southern Jordan which today receives an annual rainfall under four inches.
In antiquity however, when Petra was a flourishing city of the Nabataean people (and eventually part of the Roman Empire), the surrounding hills were covered with gardens, growing grapes and other crops, and the city center was home to a public pleasure garden full of pools, fountains, and exotic plants. All of this was made possible by the Nabataeans' ingenuity, and their ability to capture rainfall, directing water to numerous cisterns around the city, while dams and canals in the hinterlands created an extensive agricultural landscape.
This presentation, based on excavation work in the heart of Petra, and archaeological survey on its outskirts, examines the ingenious ways in which the ancient Nabataeans of Petra harnessed water to create a lush and prosperous paradise in the desert.
Christian Cloke is Associate Director of Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture, Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland.
Location: Yalyla Bistro - 2201 Westmoreland Street / Arlington, VA / 22213
Luncheon at 2 pm; Lecture at 3 pm