I majored in Archaeology and each student had to participate in field school (i.e. an expedition). Most years the field school was to go to Southern Utah/Four Corners area but every several years they would send the students out to Petra National Park in Jordan. I was lucky to be there for that year.
I was super excited. This was going to be my very first time out of the country (I had never even been to Mexico or Canada). Since it was post 9/11 I was often asked if I was nervous to go to a Middle Eastern country. Honestly I was not worried at all, in fact, since I had taken a couple of courses on Islamic culture and religion I was very excited to have first hand experiences.
We flew from Salt Lake City to New York to Paris and then finally to Amman. We spent the night in Amman before heading to a small village called Um Sayhoum outside Petra. Petra was the film location of the tomb that held the Holy Grail in the 3rd Indiana Jones movie. When we weren't playing archaeologists we played tourists and explored the amazing sights of the ancient culture, the Nabateans. Here's the history in a nutshell, the Nabatean's heyday occupation was between the 1st century BC and 1st Century AD. They were able to successfully keep the Romans out because of natural defenses, namely the Siq, a long narrow passageway to the main portions of the settlement. They were innovative with being able to collect and display water through huge cisterns, piping and fountains. They prospered because of their location along the Silk Road. Eventually they fell and through the centuries various groups of people occupied the area.
|Perfect example of the Siq. You can also see the roman roadwork and the cut outs on the side where water collected|
|Remnant of a camel and person as decoration for the water passages.|
|Close up to the water passages.|
|Recognize it from the Indiana Jones movie?|
|El-Khaznah or the Treasury, no grail inside, just a big open room.|
|This is from the Treasury looking back towards the Siq.|
|This was the main drag of town, shops would've been set up along this.|
|This is the Temple my director excavated during HIS field school in the 70s|
|Brown University excavates this large temple complex.|
|This is my scare-the-crap-out-of-your-parents photo. I wasn't too close to the edge ;)|
|Riding a camel is not like riding a horse.|
|Located in the next town over, this is the traditional spot where Moses hit a rock and water came forth (Numbers 20:11). This is considered Holy Water and people come to collect it. I have a bottle myself.|
|Eating dinner with our hosts at one of his other houses.|
|The long walk up to El-Deir or the Monastery, my FAVORITE place in Petra.|
|Part of the entrance to a Crusaders Fort.|
|Jebel Huron, traditional burial place of Aaron, the brother of Moses (Numbers 20:28)|
|How we traveled to Jebel Huron, at least till the truck couldn't go any further.|
|We traveled the rest of the way on foot.|
|This tomb was the family home of the people we lived with.|
|The bedouin village as seen from the park.|
|Our host family lived on the first floor and we took over the 2nd and 3rd floors. I loved going on the roof to hang out and watch the stars.|
|They did our laundry. There was a donkey that lived in the back yard so sometimes the donkey would rub up against your drying clothes. We all took it in stride.|
|Two of the daughters cooked for us.|
|Mapping our site before we started digging.|
|Tons of dirt blown in. You can barely see the wall exposed at the entrance, compare to the next photo...|
|After we were all done. You can compare to see how much dirt we had to remove.|
|Sometimes we had to be very meticulous with our excavating.|
|Love this picture! It seems to capture it all. Waiting for dirt to sift, carrying buckets to be dumped, and being exhausted by the labor of it all.|
|Sometimes we had to be creative on how we removed the dirt as to not damage what was underneath.|
|One of two partially articulated skeletons we found.|
1. Life can be lived in many different ways. Seeing the bedouin live in a style that is completely different than my own puts my own style of living in persepctive. Not only has it allowed me to have appreciation for things but it also has made me see the excess that I have and try to live more simply. This reminds me of the hashtag, First World Problems. It's pretty ridiculous the things we get upset over so I find that I've become a lot more easy going and don't let things bother me as much.
2. There is beauty everywhere. Going into my trip I wouldn't have said that there is a lot of beauty in the desert but after living there for 2 months I can appreciate the beauty that is there. I can still close my eyes and see the landscape and I get a small pang of nostalgia.
|Taken from the roof and therefore the scene I saw most. This is what I see when I close my eyes and think about Jordan.|
4. Plain and simple, trying new things stretches you. It may make you slightly uncomfortable at first but then you grow from those experiences. This is good for your mental health. I noticed after I came home I had a new confidence that I didn't have beforehand. I still face situations that are slightly uncomfortable or something I rather not do, but because of the growth I experienced there, I can face it with a stronger resolve.
If you get a chance to visit Petra, you need to take it. It was such a unique and amazing place to visit. I'm so gratful my field school was in Jordan and not Southern Utah. I think my life would be a bit different if that were the case. Who knew 2 months could affect you so much?