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Jordan: Amman and the Citadel

May 16, 2010

A trip to Jordan should include some time in Amman, the capital and largest city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  This modern city of 3 million is one of the oldest continuously inhabited locations in the world with the first recorded settlers dating to around 8500 BC.  The name Amman comes from the people who inhabited the area around 1200 BC, the Ammonites.    

Roman Theater in the center of Amman

Roman Theater in the center of Amman

 

A good place to begin a visit of Amman is at the Citadel, a site with an extensive collection of ancient treasures located high atop a hill in the center of the city.  Small caves on the hill provide evidence of the early Neolithic settlers.  The hill was fortified around 1800 BC and the Bible records that King David captured the city in the early 10th century BC.  Uriah the Hittite, husband of King David’s lover Bathsheba, died in combat after the king ordered him to the front line of battle.   

A Muslim couple touring the Citadel

A Muslim couple touring the Citadel

 

Over the centuries, Amman and the surrounding region was caught in the middle of the power struggles between the East and the West.  A long line of empires claimed the territory including Assyria (8th century BC), followed by Babylonia, Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, the Romans and the Byzantines.  For a time, Amman was called “Philadelphia”, named after Ptolemy II Philadelphus.  When Jordan came under Arab rule in the 7th century AD, the Umayyad rulers changed the name back to Amman.   

Temple of Hercules

Temple of Hercules

 

Remains of a Byzantine Church

Remains of a Byzantine Church

 

The Citadel has many archaeological reminders of the powers that once ruled Jordan.  The Romans built the Temple of Hercules between 162-166 AD.  This temple was larger than any temple in Rome, with massive 33-feet-tall  columns.  Remains from a Byzantine basilica constructed in the 5th century AD are nearby.   

Umayyad governor's palace

Umayyad governor's palace

 

After the Muslims conquered the Middle East they constructed the Umayyad governor’s palace (8th century), the domed building in the background, on this hill.  The dome is a modern reconstruction perched on the old structure.  Next to the palace are remains of an early mosque.   

Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls

 

Plaster statues from Ain Ghazal (6500 BC)

Plaster statues from Ain Ghazal (6500 BC)

 

Some of the most impressive items are on display in the Jordan Archaeological Museum, a simple building on top of the hill.  It’s amazing collection includes portions of The Dead Sea Scrolls, plaster statues from Ain Ghazal (one of the oldest settlements in the world), Moabite, Ammonite and Nabataean ruins with inscriptions, clothing and chainmail from Muslim warriors, Neolithic pottery, along with Roman and Byzantine relics.   

I have mostly touched on ancient history… but, there is so much more to Amman.  We enjoyed delicious food… the fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the Jordan valley are excellent.  We met lots of friendly people.  We visited with the cooks at breakfast, our drivers, the security detail at the entrance of the hotel, people in the little shops… everywhere we went people were warm and conversational.  Western influence is common in Amman – large signs in the shopping areas promote wedding dresses that resemble the dresses found at U.S. weddings.  Many of the women and girls wear jeans and slacks with colorful tops and their headscarves have evolved into fashionable head coverings.  The longer we were here the more we felt at home.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Gloria Tagle permalink
    May 29, 2010 1:52 pm

    I am very impressed with your trip compilation, both the write-up and photos. This will serve as a guide for me when I look back at my pictures and one day decide to make a photo album of our Middle Eastern vacation. Thanks so much Brad. Regards to you and Mary.

    • May 29, 2010 5:53 pm

      Gloria, thanks for checking out my blog and your kind thoughts. We hope you and Fred are doing well. If you want to set up a free blog, go to http://www.wordpress.com. There are lots of templates etc.

  2. December 21, 2012 12:40 am

    Very informative and beautifully written…love your photographs.

    • December 21, 2012 7:15 am

      Thanks for checking out my blog – and your kind words. I’m happy you enjoyed the post.

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