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Petra: Lost City of Stone

Glenbow Museum
Calgary AB Oct 29-Feb 20, 2005

Youthful male head, Khirbet Tannur
Youthful male head. Khirbet Tannur, ca. (1st century A.D.), [Glenbow Museum, Calgary AB, Oct 29-Feb 20] Courtesy: Department of Antiquities, Amman, Jordan. ©Cincinnati Art Museum, photo: Peter John Gates FBIPP, ARPS

Petra, Lost City of Stone, a major exhibition at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary showcasing 200 objects, including artefacts of daily life, precious objects of the wealthy, colossal stone sculptures and architectural elements, tells the story of an ancient city carved from sandstone cliffs deep in the harsh deserts of Jordan. Located on a mountain 55 miles south of the Dead Sea and built between the 2nd Century BC and the 3rd Century AD, Petra was once a thriving centre of trade built and maintained by the ancient Nabataean people on a mercantile route between Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilizations.

At its height around AD 50, an estimated 20,000 people lived and worked in this major centre of commerce and culture. The extraordinary mythical city was lost to an earthquake in its waning days near the end of the 3rd Century. In the early 1800s, visitors arrived by camel and on foot to see the ruins of foreboding temples. In 1989, Petra was the site of a feature film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But despite its recent renown, less than one-twentieth of the ancient city has been unearthed. It is one of the most active and fascinating archeological sites in the world.

Ursula Salemink Roos - Coastal Impression XII
Architectural relief with head of Dushares-Dionysus. Petra, ca (1st century A.D.), [Glenbow Museum, Calgary AB, Oct 29-Feb 20] Courtesy: Department of Antiquities, Amman, Jordan

Fred Thornton Hollingsworth - Tretheway Residence, Abbotsford
Treasury Building, Petra

In recent years, archeologists from Jordan, France, Switzerland and the United States have excavated nearly 3,000 tombs cut from the rock, formal gardens, a colonnaded street, an immense pool complex, banquet halls, altars, and theatres – all stuccoed and brightly painted in a decorative fashion. A palatial home with running water and sophisticated plumbing has been discovered.


Mia Johnson

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