Category Archives: Archaeology


Presently, I am reading a novel where part of the action occurs in Petra, the ancient capital city of the Nabataeans, the most visited tourist attraction in Jordan. Today, I rediscovered a poem, written in 1845 by John William Burgon, about the city of Petra, which at the time was inaccessible, a place of which he had heard but never seen. Beauty may be captured in carefully-framed photographs, and also in carefully-crafted words:

“It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.”


Al Khazneh Tomb at Petra