The Roman Vestiges of Jerash in Jordan
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The Roman Vestiges of Jerash in Jordan

Often called the Pompeii of the Middle-East, Jerash is an extraordinary Roman city with many magnificent vestiges.

When Rome became a powerful empire, the armies conquered Syria and, commanded by Pompey, walked from Damascus to Jordan, liberating the pillaged Greek cities. Pompey constituted the Decapolis, a commercial league of ten cities, this representing a unique political phenomenon in the Roman Empire. Although they were submitted to the Roman Governor for Syria, those cities enjoyed an incredibly high level of autonomy. Among those towns were found Philadelphia, the present Amman, Gerasa, the present Jerash, Godara now Um Queis and Pella now Tabaqat Fahil. The monumental ruins are of great importance in these cities and especially in Jerash, Um Queis and Amman. Jerash is considered the most complete and best preserved Roman town of the region and often referred to as the "Pompeii of the Middle-East".  

In the second half of the Ist century BC, Jerash gained a huge popularity and could achieve a vast program of constructions, namely the Oval Forum, the Cardo Maximus and both South and North Decumanus whose colonnade really is extraordinary. The Temple of Zeus was rebuilt in the year 22 AD and  remained uncompleted until 76 AD. The North gate was finished in 75-76 AD. The Oval Forum, the Temple of Artemis, the Nymphaeum, and both amphitheaters were built at that time. All of these monuments profited by donations from rich citizens. In 90 AD, the town was part of the Roman Province of Arabia. Two thermae were also erected in 106 AD. Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash in 129-130 AD and a triumphal arch was inaugurated to commemorate the event. Water came from the sources Ain El Quayrawan and Birkitain located North of the city. In 350 AD, a large Christian community lived in Jerash, the mosaics of the churches can still be observed today.

The decline of the town is a consequence of the Persian invasion in 614. Nevertheless, Jerash knew prosperity during the Ummayad period, which was confirmed by the new excavations. In 746, an earthquake caused many destructions in and around Jerash.  During the Crusades, the temple of Artemis was turned a fortress. Since 1981, the Jerash Festival and Roman Army Chariot Experience (RACE) welcome more and more tourists.

The Oval Forum at Jerash.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/Jerash11-Forum%28js%29.jpg

The Nymphaeum.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/Jerash25-nimpheum%28js%29.jpg

The Arch of Hadrian.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Jerash_BW_1.JPG

The North Tetrapylon.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Jerash30-north_tetrapylon%28js%29.jpg

The North Amphitheater.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/Jerash_BW_16.JPG

Temple of Artemis.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Jerash_BW_24.JPG

Temple of Zeus.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Jerash_BW_19.JPG

Temple of Dyonisos.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Jerash_Cathedral_Gateway.jpg

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Comments (8)

Beautifully presented article with so many facts and some really historic photographs. I never realised there was so much history there.

Reading this and looking at the pictures makes you think how beautiful this place was, before it became ruins. Still out of votes but will be back later ^_^

Absolutely enthralling! Though it is in ruins, it still evokes a powerful and majestic aura; an undeniable legacy which awes all.

Exellent work my friend. I learned a lot from reading it. Your interests are so wide-ranging.

Those were great edifices of the ancient times but representing the greatest architecture even before the advancement of engineering implements. Another masterpiece my frend.

If those are the kind of structures the Romans could build without technology, just imagine what they would have created with todays technology, provided they could tear themselves away from their computers..:-)

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Thank you all for your kind comments.

Rome is such a grand place. Wonderful background write about the temples, Francois. Still magnificent although in ruins. Thank you.

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