A Life Time in Arabia - Petra

By Founder & Owner Of Caravan: Um-Sami

Um-Sami is a British lady who has made Kuwait her home for nearly forty years. She has travelled extensively in Arabia searching for treasures for her Arabian gift company www.caravankw.com and she will be sharing her stories and experiences with us in a series of articles for Livinq8

Petra – A Rose Red City Half as Old as Time.

The frankincense trail caravan routes passed through a series of kingdoms - Main, Hadramawr, Sheba, and Qataban---in what is now Yemen, and then paralleled the Red Sea coast, about 70 miles inland, and passed through Mecca and Medina in present-day Saudi Arabia before reaching Petra in the kingdom of Nabataea in what is now Jordan.


The city of Petra, capital of the Nabataean Arabs, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh, and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the 4th century AD. The earthquake combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city which was ultimately abandoned. By the middle of the 7th century Petra appears to have been largely deserted and it was then lost to all except local 



Bedouin from the area In 1812 a Swiss explorer named Johannes Burckhardt set out to ‘rediscover’ Petra; he dressed up as an Arab and convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. After this, Petra became increasingly known in the West and began attracting visitors again.


From Petra, frankincense moved in overland routes to Asia Minor, Palmyra, Damascus, and the Parthian Empire, centered in present-day Iran, or to relatively close Gaza and Alexandria, where it was transported to ports in the Roman Empire.


Due to travel restrictions in Saudi Arabia and the political situation in The Yemen and Syria, sadly I have been unable to travel to these portions of the Frankincense trail but I hope that one day this will change so I can carry on with my journey. 
I was lucky enough to complete a road trip through Jordan and travelled from the capital Amman to Ajloun –an impressive 12th century castle, to Jerash – a wonderfully preserved Roman city, down to the dead sea and the nearby baptism site of Jesus at the river Jordan and Mount Nebo where Moses looked out onto the promised land. From there it was on to Petra - the fabled ‘rose red city half as old as time’.


The next part of the journey took us to Wadi Rum - a picture perfect desert landscape where the film Lawrence of Arabia was filmed and finally down to Aqabah on the shores of the Red sea which has the oldest remains of a church anywhere in the world! In future articles I will write in more detail about some of these sites and share some more of my pictures.

For Frankincense & Myrrh and other gifts from Arabia, you can visit my web-site www.caravankw.comfor online shopping with home delivery all over Kuwait. 

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