Jordan – Ancient Ruins at Jerash

We got up on the morning of Friday, February 21st, and prepared to enter the country of Jordan, Israel’s neighbor to the east. I felt a sense of sadness as I caught my last glimpse of the Sea of Galilee from the bus window; it was so beautiful there, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back again.

We crossed into the country of Jordan via the Sheikh Hussein bridge / border crossing. We were apprehensive to be leaving Israel; we would have to leave our trusty guide Kenny behind and pick up a Jordanian guide for the next couple of days, and we were entering into a country that was made up of primarily Muslim citizens. I was leaving my comfort zone farther and farther behind with each mile that brought us closer to Jordan.

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Our pastor got on the PA system in the bus, and warned us in no uncertain terms that this was not a time for jokes or light-hearted banter with the border agents. We got the message loud and clear: we were definitely not in Kansas anymore.  Jordan is considered a friend to Israel, but still, we needed to approach this seriously.

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It took quite a while for them to process us all through. I think it was somewhere on the order of two hours. Eventually, we got our new guide, and we also picked up another guest who would be with us for the next two days – a Jordanian security officer. Once we were settled and had all of our luggage back, we were on our way.

We were to visit the sites that I’ve circled in red, while we were in Jordan:

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I could tell instantly that we were not in Israel anymore, because of the minarets. It seemed as if there was one every few miles or so.

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Our first stop for the day was the site of the ancient ruins at Jerash.  I was impressed – considering the age of these structures, they were very well preserved.

Known to the Greeks and Romans as Gerasa, excavations have shown that this site was actually inhabited as far back as 3200 BC, during the Bronze Age.

The more modern settlement occurred in the 3rd century BC, according to both literary sources and inscriptions, when the city was founded by either Alexander the Great or his general, Perdiccas. It’s believed that it was intended to be a retirement community of sorts for aging Macedonian soldiers. (“Gerasmenos” meaning aged person in Greek.)

Around 63 BC the Romans took control of the area, and the city became part of the Roman province of Syria. The city prospered under Roman Rule, and the citizens directed their energy towards trade and civic building projects. The remnants of their efforts were amazing to behold, even some 2,000 years later.

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The Arch of Hadrian, built to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city in AD 130:

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The oval shaped forum, surrounded by the well-preserved colonnade:

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The theater was amazing:

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The “stage” area of the theater:

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We could still see inscriptions on the seats, designating the seat numbers:

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View of modern day Jerash from the top row of the theater:

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Jerash was a really interesting spot if you’re into antiquity. And of course it was just pretty cool to be in Jordan.

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