Petra its Semitic name Rekem or Raqmu is an ancient city located in present-day Jordan Wadi Rum.
Created in antiquity to the late eighth century BC. BC by the Edomites, then it is occupied to the sixth century BC. BC by the Nabataeans who thrive thanks to its position on the caravan route carrying incense, spices and other valuable goods between Egypt, Syria, Arabia and South Mediterranean . To the eighth century, changing trade routes and earthquakes cause the gradual abandonment of the city by its inhabitants. Petra hosted its peak twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Forgotten in modern times, the site was rediscovered by the Western world through the Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt in 1812.
Many buildings, including the monumental facades are carved directly into the rock, make it a monumental and unique set that since December 6, 1985, is listed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The area around the site is also, since 1993, a national archaeological park.
Petra is located halfway between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea at an altitude of 800 to 1396 meters above sea level, in a valley of the mountainous region of Edom, to east of the valley of the Arabah. Today the site of Petra is located about 200 km south of the Jordanian capital Amman, is about 3 hours route4.
The situation of Petra, hidden between rocks and steep walls with a safe water supply is a place conducive to the development of a thriving city. The place is accessible only by a narrow mountain trail from the north-west and to the east by a canyon of about 1.5 km long and up to 200 meters deep, the Siq, access main, which at its narrowest point, measuring only two meters wide.
The presence of water and the security provided by the site of Petra have a natural stopping at the crossroads of several caravan routes that linked Egypt to Syria and South Arabia to the Mediterranean, loaded mainly luxury goods (spices and silk from India, ivory from Africa, the Red Sea pearls and incense from southern Arabia). The resin of the “incense tree” (Boswellia) was coveted in the entire ancient world as a particularly valuable religious offering, but also as a medicine.
The business generated by caravans and taxes levied produced substantial profits for the Nabataeans. Therefore, the city housed the fifth century BC. BC to the third century an important market.