The exhibition includes more than 170 artifacts selected from museums in
Jordan, Europe and the United States. Some of the artifacts were unearthed
only recently and are being shown in North America for the first time.
PETRA is organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and the American Museum
of Natural History in New York City.
Founded in the first century B.C., Petra prospered for centuries at
the confluence of the famous silk and spice roads. Once home to an estimated
20,000 people, Petra eventually sank into obscurity. Forgotten by the outside
world for hundreds of years, a thinly populated Petra was "rediscovered"
by a Swiss explorer in 1812. It has been an object of Western fascination
OUTLINE AND HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EXHIBITION
The exhibition is divided into 12 sections, beginning with a dramatic
visual introduction to the city and a celebration of its rediscovery
in the 19th century. Visitors are then transported back to the founding
of the Nabataean kingdom and begin a journey through time to the present day.
- The Introduction provides a breathtaking view of the Treasury
seen through the Siq, the narrow gorge that led traders into Petra.
- Petra Rediscovered uses 19th-century paintings, drawings and
prints to illustrate the city’s "rediscovery" by
Burckhardt in 1812 and to underline Petra’s powerful allure to subsequent
European and North American travellers.
- The People of Petra examines the origins of the Nabataeans.
Among the objects in this section is a striking gravestone bearing
the likeness of a man’s head. Its style provides evidence
that the Nabataeans interacted with the kingdoms of southern Arabia.
Other highlights include several inscribed plaques with Nabataean
- Caravans and Commerce explores how the Nabataeans built a
commercial empire. Highlights include a recently discovered column
capital with elephant heads, and a beautiful alabaster funerary
plaque from southern Arabia — objects that confirm the extent of
- Petra: Crossroads of the Ancient World is an eight-minute
film created especially for the exhibition. It presents a brief
cultural history of the city, and examines how the more than 800 tombs
were literally cut into the rock using a unique process. The film also
reveals the ingenious methods the Nabataeans developed to manage and
- City of Stone examines the architecture, engineering, and
artistry of the Nabataeans. This section gives visitors a sense of the
actual scale and grandeur of Petra’s rock-cut monuments. It does so by
projecting panoramic views of the city onto a bank of screens 8 metres
wide and two metres high. Other highlights of this section are a relief
carving of a standing eagle, and a recently reassembled sculpted
garland frieze from one of Petra’s major temples.
- Daily Life offers a glimpse of day-to-day life in Petra.
Among the section’s artifacts is an elaborately carved Roman marble
vase with panther-shaped handles. Other highlights include a selection
of gold and silver jewellery; and a collection of elegant, finely painted
Nabataean ceramics. This section also examines Nabataean architecture.
Featured are a sculpted limestone niche or window frame, and a
selection of interior decorative stuccowork from temples and private
- Icons of the Gods focuses on the religious world of the
Nabataeans, who drew upon the religious traditions of many surrounding
regions. Highlights in this section include the two halves of an
important Nabataean statue which were separated 1,500 years ago and
are now reunited for the first time. Other highlights include eight
impressive blocks depicting figures of the zodiac; a monumental one-tonne
sandstone bust of Dushara, Petra’s primary male deity; and a striking
portable alabaster eye idol of al-‘Uzza, Petra’s primary female deity.
- Under Roman Rule examines the influence of Rome on Petra,
which came under the control of the emperor Trajan in A.D. 106 and
remained under Roman rule for the next three centuries. A major highlight
in this section is a nearly life-size bronze statue of the Greco-Roman
goddess Artemis, the only surviving statue of its type from Petra.
- The Great Earthquake describes the violent tremors of A.D.
363 that caused considerable damage to Petra.
- The Byzantine Era explores the history of Petra in the fifth
and sixth centuries A.D., when Petra became an important centre of
Christianity within the Byzantine realm. A highlight of this section is
a sixth-century A.D. scroll fragment that is part of an extensive
will of a wealthy man named Obodianus.
- Petra Today details ongoing archaeological research and
THE BEDOUIN OF PETRA
For information or advanced
ticket purchase call: (819) 776-7000 or 1 800 555-5621.