Middle East  | 02/12/2014

PETRA Discovery History

In 2012 were celebrated 200 years since the rediscovery of the city of Petra in Jordan. The traveller, archaeologist and spy Swiss Johann Ludwig Burckhardt was the first European who managed to reach the ruins of this city, in August 1812. It was a huge risk because was prohibited to European wandering around these areas, and had to travel disguised like a local. He was unable to stop taking any notes, but could see that such magnificent ruins of a temple carved into the pink rock at the bottom of a gorge, corresponded to the Nabataeans ancient capital.

Today Petra is an essential destination for any traveller, with such stunning images as the Treasury, the Central Temple, the Roman theatre and the gorges that allow access to the most amazing view of Petra’s red carved city. For centuries, it was a mystery and a legend. Johann Ludwig Burckhardt travelled in a convoy through the territory wearing Arab attire and under the false identity of Sheikh Ibrahim ibn Abdallah, as part of their scientific activities for an association for promoting the Interior Africa Discovery. This agency was an organization that served as cover for his work for the British Foreign Office.

Burckhardt was a man of a solid culture; he spoke several languages including Arabic, which allowed him to travel by lands especially dangerous for Christians. Under the guise of wanting to offer a sacrifice at Aaron’s Prophet Tomb, he separated from the caravan with his guide and could contemplate Petra ruins, becoming the first western than did it in the last six hundred years. Although he promised not to reveal the secret, his memories about this special place, was published five years after his death, in 1822.



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