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jerash Jerash

City of the Decapolis

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jerashJerash 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.

jerashThe 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.

jerashArcheologists 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.

jerashFrom 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.

jerash 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 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.

jerashThe restaurant and restroom facilities at the entrance to Jerash were extremely clean when we were there in 2004.

jerashNear 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 offered. jerash

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).

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Patti

This page was updated on 26 November.

Contact me at: patti.primeau@sympatico.ca

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