Back in 319 BCE (2,326 years ago!!), the area that stretched from southern Syria, east to the Euphrates river (modern Iraq), down to edge of the Red Sea and then up to the vicinity of the Dead Sea was named 'land of the Nabatene'. Its nomadic warrior peoples, the Nabataeans, were the creators of the amazing Petra tombs, altars and temples that were exquisitely hand carved out of red lime-stone. More than 2 millenia later, they have magnificently stood the test of time. (See my posted detail of 'the Treasury' -- May 29th).
On my second day of touring Wadi Rum, we took a turn inwards, headed towards an enclosed interior valley, walled on both sides by rugged yellow sandstone cliffs. (See my posting 'Jagged Piece of Sky' -- June 19th) Pulling up beside a single, one-manned, and very solitary, goat haired Bedouin tent, we hopped out and were directed to a hidden upper ledge of rock a few feet away, well off the valley floor. Here we found perfectly preserved Nabataean petraglyphs -- large hand carved depictions of two male figures and then a much more intricate depiction of a camel. Further along we also found well detailed depictions of a herd of goats .
It was simply amazing...! I was standing in the bright, warm sunlight, unknown miles from any body of water, modern housing, paved roads or food, and walled in on both sides by enormous sandstone bluffs. And I was walking the path of countless thousands before me -- so incredibly before our current time. The ghosts of a history past began to overwhelm me and I was completely humbled. The valley was so beautifully stark, seemingly devoid of life, plant or animal. And yet here were the visible signs, remains of intelligent life, that once thrived in numbers upwards of 10,000 strong within these same vast red and yellow sands. For 20 centuries, this desolate and rocky valley had held onto its historic secrets... And as if a mere wrinkle in time had eclipsed, suddenly we were here to behold and ponder over them...
This shot was taken just in front of the ledge hiding the ancient petraglyphs. Alex (pictured here), makes his way back down the rocky slope to the Bedouin tent (seen at far left) for mint tea, the vast golden landscape of this hidden valley stretching out behind him, seemingly to infinity.
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