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Ancient Petra

Updated March 24th 2019

The palace Tomb, with a facade imitating a Roman palace of three storeys.
In these enormous mausoleums were buried the Kings of Petra ...

Ancient Petra lies in the southeastern desert of modern Jordan. The city was cut into the rocks, many of them with intricate structures and columns. The approach to the city is through a ravine that sometimes is less than 4 metres wide. The name Petra comes from Greek and can be translated as City of Rock. The Petra Basin -- in which the ancient city site rests -- was occupied from Neolithic times but gained its first prominence as a stronghold and probable capital city of the biblical Edomites ...

The narrow tortuous approach to Petra along the ravine called the Siq
with an ancient rock-cut water channel on the right ...

Next to enter the area are the Nabatu -- very possibly the descendants of Nebayoth; the eldest son of Ishmael. Situated along the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula the Nabatu may have represented a confederacy of nomadic or seminomadic tribes. They eventually wandered northward to take refuge at Petra. Some combination of pressure from the incoming Nabatu and the weakened condition of southern Judah caused a western Edomite migration. Although the chronology is not yet clear it appears that some Edomites remained behind in the Edom area while others moved westward to settle in southern Judah and became known as the Idumaeans of the Bible. Eventually the merging of the sedentary Edomites who still shared the area with the wandering Nabatu led to the formation of the Nabateans of history ... Thus the city is a former capital of the Nabateans when the Arab people dominated this region [and] before the conquest by the Romans ...

Exploring Jordan: The Other Biblical Land (PDF) © 2019 Biblical Archaeology Society

On top of this peak, called the Um el Biyara, was probably the site of the Biblical Sela.
It is the only place in Petra where Iron Age remains have been found ...

... Other candidates for Biblical Sela have been proposed, namely the steep-sided mountain of Umm el-Biyara in nearby Petra. Although we won’t know more about Sela’s Edomite history until the site is systematically explored and excavated, the available evidence shows that this fascinating mountaintop stronghold was certainly an important place of refuge for the Edomites throughout the Iron Age, at least down to the time of Nabonidus and perhaps during the reign of Amaziah as well. SEE: The Edomite Stronghold of Sela --- © 2019 Biblical Archaeology Society

Sela or Petra --- "The Strong City" : The Ruined Capital of Edom by Reverend A. Forder
in the The Biblical World Volume 18 (1901)

Petra: A Brief History

ONLINE BOOK: The Khazneh at Petra (Palestine Exploration Fund in 1911) [University of Chicago]

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium