Men on the Rocks
Petra in modern southern Jordan is universally known as one of the most frequented touristic sites in the Near East, inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list. Modern visitors are attracted by the romantic aspect of the rock-cut tomb facades, heavily contrasting in their baroque stile with the desert like surrounding of the rocky and arid landscape.
These monuments were the result of the long time presence of the Arab tribe of the Nabataeans who made Petra their capital when they became, at least partially, sedentarised during the Hellenistic period, i.e between the late 4th to late 1st centuries BCE.
How exactly this process of sedentarisation happened, how the site of Petra changed from a temporary dwelling place of a small Bedouin tribe to one of the blinking capitals of the ancient Near East that attracted - as it is the case today - visitors from all over the world, was the subject of a three years research program, jointly sponsored by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). At the end of the program, an international conference, held in Berlin in December 2011, brought together several dozen of scholars from all over the world in order to pinpoint the state of research on the Formation of the Nabataean capital.
The contributions of the present volume focus on questions related to the natural environment of the site, on the geology and geography as well as on architecture, small finds and social dynamics, probably the clue for a better understanding of the functioning of the Nabataean kingdom and its capital Petra.