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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MCLA chapter.

Many who have seen Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” are familiar with the famous red sandstone structure carved into the side of a canyon cliff in the middle of the Jordanian desert. But far and few are really aware of this place’s rich cultural history and the mystery behind it. 

The famous city of Petra (Al Batra in Arabic) lies in the middle of the desert in Jordan, approximately one hour or less from the Israeli border. In order to get there, travelers take almost the same route that was depicted in the film, traveling through a long stretch of the Jabal Al Madbah canyon. In many famous photos and snapshots, people hike in on their own two feet or are accompanied on horseback or by camel with many of the locals. 

Petra was built and settled as early as the 4th or 5th century BC by a group of nomads known as the Nabataeans and claimed the city as the capital of their kingdom and later it became a prominent trading hub for the early Middle East. It is easy to see why they chose the canyon to build their city, secluded, out of the way and made to withstand attacks from invaders. The most famous sights of Petra include the Al-Khazneh structure which is believed to have been built as a mausoleum for the Nabataean king Aretas IV. These are the images that stick out in the mind’s eye when one thinks of Petra, the vast structures and pillars of red stone secluded away deep in the sandy desert.

In 106 AD however, the Nabataean rule came to a close with the arrival of the Roman Empire. The empire may have deteriorated yet the ruins of this mighty kingdom still stand as a great testament to a civilization that has been all but lost. There can be no doubt that those who journey through the scorching desert sands and across the Wadi Rum which runs through Jordan, are deeply moved by the imposing sight. At night the sights are even more incredible with the glow of a thousand votives lit in honor of the deceased or as an offering to God and the flicker of the flames cast red and black shadows against the stone. There can be no doubt in the minds of travelers and historians everywhere, that Petra is one of the greatest wonders of the world. 

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