Petra, the Nabataean rock-cut city in Jordan, has been chosen by 100 million voters as one of the new seven wonders of the world. It was selected, along with six other monuments, as part of the “New7Wonders” online campaign.
The settlement of Petra, located at the end of the narrow Siq canyon in southern Jordan, may date back to the upper Paleolithic period (c. 40,000–10,000 B.C.E.). The Hebrew Bible says that the region was part of the Edomite kingdom during the late second and early first millennia B.C.E.
Many of Petra’s geographical features are associated with Moses and his brother Aaron, including Wadi Mousa (the Riverbed of Moses) and Jebel Haroun (the Mountain of Aaron). According to tradition, the Israelites passed through Petra en route from Egypt to the Promised Land.
A city was established at Petra in the fourth century B.C.E. by semi-nomadic Arabs known as the Nabataeans, who carved the impressive tombs and façades into the pliable sandstone. One of the most beautiful examples is el Deir (the Monastery), which dates to the late-first centuryC.E.. The structure was thought to have been a monastery because of the crosses that were painted and inscribed on its inner walls, but its original function was as a banquet hall and meeting place for the cult of the deified Nabataean king Obodas I. The city flourished for centuries as a major center of Near Eastern trade, and, after being conquered by the Romans in 106 C.E., it remained a thriving metropolis until the sixth or seventh century, when it was mysteriously abandoned.
In 1812 Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered the site, and since then it has been a modest tourist