Petra is a city in Jordan that is known to its inhabitants as Raqmu or Raqēmō. It is historically and archaeologically important, and is a popular tourist destination. It is adjacent to Jabal Al-Madbah, in a basin surrounded by mountains forming the eastern side of Wadi Araba, extending from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. The Nabataeans probably settled in Petra around 4th century BC, and the area around Petra has been inhabited for a long time. Archaeology has only found evidence of Nabataean presence in Petra dating back to the second century BC. This was likely when Petra became their capital. The Nabataeans were an Arab tribe that benefited from Petra’s location near important trade routes. By establishing it as a major regional trading hub, they became very wealthy.
Although the Nabataean kingdom became a client state of the Roman Empire in the first century BC, it did not lose its independence until 106 AD. The Nabataeans fell to the Roman Empire, who renamed the region as Arabia Petraea. Petra’s importance diminished as sea routes became more prevalent, and after an earthquake destroyed many structures in 363. By the Byzantine era, several Christian churches had been built in the city, but it continued to decline, and by the early Islamic era it was abandoned except for a handful of nomads. It was unknown until it was rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
The High Place of Sacrifice is located on Jebel Madbah Mountain. The hike begins near Petra’s famous theater. The High Place of Sacrifice is located 800 steps away from the site. One of the sacrifices that took place here was pouring liquids on the ground. Another common type of sacrifice that took place in this area was the sacrifice of animals; this is due to the belief that the tomb of the Prophet Aaron is located in Petra, which is a sacred site for Muslims. To commemorate this event, an animal was sacrificed annually. There is also a biblical passage in which Prophet Abraham was said to be saved by an angel. Other rituals also took place here, including the burning of frankincense.
The Royal Tombs of Petra showcase the unique artistry of the Nabateans, as well as Hellenistic architecture, but the exterior facades of these tombs have suffered from natural decay over time. There are many tombs in Petra, some of which are speculated to be the tombs of the kings of Petra. The Corinthian Tomb, which is located next to the Palace Tomb, features Hellenistic architecture similar to that found on the Treasury. The two other Royal Tombs are the Silk Tomb and the Urn Tomb; the Silk Tomb doesn’t stand out as much as the Urn Tomb. The Urn Tomb features a large open space in its front, which was later turned into a church after the expansion of Christianity in 446 AD.