is a delightful country to visit. Jordanians are friendly and welcoming
to visitors, constantly calling out "Welcome in Jordan". In the midst
of the current Middle Eastern turmoil Jordan seems to retain a feeling
of peace and sanity not to be found in the surrounding countries.
One thing that overwhelms visitors to Jordan is the sense of
history. Amman, the ancient Rabbath Ammon of the Old Testament, is over
5500 years old. In antiquity it was taken by the biblical David's army.
Later it was one of the cities of the ancient Decapolis.
Amman, at Madaba, is the famous mosaic depicting Palestine and lower
Egypt, often seen in advertisments for Israel. A few km away is Mt.
Nebo, one of the supposed burial places of Moses. Legend places Sodom
and Gemorrah at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Before Christ was
born, Nabataean stomemasons carved out their beautiful city of Petra
from the surrounding towering rock walls. Nearby, at Wadi Musa, at the
end of the Exodus Moses struck the ground and "water gushed forth".
Aaron (also known as the Islamic prophet Harun) was buried atop Mt.
Hor, overlooking Petra.
Jordan was one of many countries that emerged when the
Ottoman empire collapsed after WWI. The newly formed League of Nations
gave Britain a Mandate over Palestine, and shortly afterwards the new
state of Transjordan was established as a separate entity under King
King Abdullah was assassinated in 1951. He was succeeded the
following year by his grandson Hussein, who took the throne at the age
of 17. King Hussein managed to hold it for 48 years until his death in
1999. His reign was plagued by insurrection attempts and major
disruptions, two wars with Israel and a virtual civil war with the
When King Hussein finally succumbed to cancer in February
1999, it was a comparatively stable and prosperous country that was
passed on to his son and nominated Heir King Abdullah II. How much that
stability relied on the presence of the widely respected Hussein, and
whether the new king can prove as diplomatically adept in one of the
most turbulent neighbourhoods of the world, only time will tell.
mentioned by name in the
Bible, the Kings Highway was the route Moses
planned to follow as he led his people north through the land of Edom,
located in what is today southern Jordan. The name may, however, derive
from an even earlier episode recounted in Genesis 14, when an alliance
of "four kings from the north" marched their troops along this route to
do battle against the five kings of the Cities of the Plain, including
the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Today a drive along the Kings Highway
will take one through many of the ecological zones of Jordan,
including: forested highlands, farmland plateaus, deep ravines, the
edge of the eastern desert, and the warm tropical Gulf of Aqaba. Lining
both sides of this 335-kilometre (207-mile) highway is an amazing chain
of archaeological sites that reads like an index of ancient history --
prehistoric Stone Age villages, towns from the Biblical kingdoms of
Ammon, Moab and Edom, Crusader Castles, some of the best preserved
Christian Byzantine mosaics in the Middle East, a Roman-Herodian
fortress, several Nabatean temples, two major Roman fortresses, early
Islamic towns, and the awe inspiring Nabatean capital of Petra cut from
the rosy rock of the region.
Visit the other pages in the Jordan
section. Click the link to go to the page.