is one of the best preserved examples of Roman urban architecture
existing outside of Italy today. Located
about 50 km north of Amman, it makes a wonderful day-trip out of the
city. The drive takes less than an hour. It is particularly pretty in
Spring when the countryside is full of wild-flowers in bloom.
ruins of Jerash were rediscovered in 1806, but excavations did not
begin until after WWI, in the 1920s. Even though acheological work has
been ongoing since then, it is estimated that 90% of the city is still
to be uncovered.
have found evidence that the site has been inhabited since Neolithic
times. Its water supply and altitude made it an ideal place for human
habitation. At 500 meters above sea level it enjoys good visibility of
the surrounding area for protection, and a temperate climate.
the time of Alexander the Great (332 BC) the city had become an urban
centre and a member of the loose federation of Greek cities know as the
Decapolis. In Classical times the city was known as Gerasa. The first
known reference to Jerash (Gerasa) dates from the 1st or 2nd century
BC. The city was also mentioned by Titus Flavius Josephus, a 1st
century Jewish historian.
During the period of Roman rule, Jerash enjoyed its golden age.
At this time Jerash may have had a population of up to 20,000 people.
The ancient city preserved today was the administrative, civic,
commercial and cultural center of this community, while the majority of
the city's citizens lived on the east side of Jerash Valley.
Hadrian's Arch bears the name of Emperor Hadrian, photo right. Built in
129 AD, its Corinthian columns set on pedestals, it commemorates a
visit by Emperor Hadrian.
restaurant and restroom facilities at the entrance to Jerash were
extremely clean when we were there in 2004.
the entrance there are also a number of souvenir shops containing items
made in Jordan, Palestine and abroad. The locally embroidered and
appliqued textile products can be good value. Hebron glass (from Hebron
in the Occupied West Bank) is available in some souvenir shops in
Jordan. Books on the history of the region are available, and can be
difficult to locate in other parts of the world. Many of the shop
keepers enjoy haggling, so don't always take the first price you are
To get there from Amman, take a service taxi or minibus from the Abdali
bus station. The site is open daily from 7:30 AM until dark. Admission
for foreigners is 5 JD (about $7 US in 2004).
Visit the other pages in the Jordan
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