Monday, 7 February 2011

The "Jordanian approaches circuit" - Day 4

The "Jordanian approaches circuit" - Day 4 (part of the morning)

The Bab as-Siq and Siq area of Petra
The 25th of January 2011

The hotel we are staying at is just a few minutes away from the entrance to the site, but in order to avoid the expected high number of visitors we left fairly early in the morning. If we were not the first ones, we must have certainly been among the first that day.

According to one writer Nabatean Petra "comes as an assault on the senses" and as I read it I was wondering what he meant by that, until I  started walking deep into the narrow walled  path, that eventually leads to the Siq. We walked in silence  "crushed" by the grandeur ... the intensifying  curiosity arisen by the guide's explanations, the undeniably sensuous colours of the sandstones ... the light ... the surrounding atmosphere ... and the expectation ...

The Djinn blocks  (the spirits) dating from the 1st and 2nd century BC, whose function although imprecise is thought to have been representations and/or repositories for the Gods of the Nabateans to stand sentinel over the city's vital water supply.

The Obelisk Tomb, which according to a Greek and Nabatian inscription dates to the reign of Malichos II (40-71 AD) and  the Bab as-Siq Triclinium, though separate entities because of having been carved at different times stand as  upper and lower levels of a single monument respectively. The obelisk-shaped steles crowning the monument are believed to represent the souls of the deceased. The Triclinium is a single chamber with stone benches for holding banquets in honour of the dead.

The Siq gorge and its eight-metre high tunnel are really impressive, making you feel particularly "small" and vulnerable. The only noise you can hear is the odd  horse and carriage bustling.

The Siq

All along the left-hand wall  of the Siq there is a Nabatean rock-cut water channel, which used to bring water from the torrent into Petra and which cannot but impact those who thoroughly look at it.

Some Votive niches are to be seen along the walls.

A sculpted merchant in Egyptian style dress  leading two camels with the water channel running behing their legs (Left). The humps of the camels are still to be traced (Right).

After having walked for about two hours and when one gets the feeling that the  gorge cannot go any farther, there is a narrow defile visibly framing a strip of classical pink like architecture at its end... the vision you have been waiting for since the moment your "adventure" started - the facade of the Khazneh Firaoun (the Treasure of the Pharaoh).

The Treasury facade seen from the Siq.

We  were all speechless ... (which was to be expected) ... beauty just a few steps away ... reachable ... almost "touchable" and touching ...

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