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Pompeii of the East

11.09.2014 9:50 PM views: 2579 HISTORY Gusterin Pavel.
Gusterin Pavel. Center for Asia and the Middle East of The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS). Download PDF file

   City of Jerash founded in the IVth BC by Semites is located 30 km north of Amman, Jordan’s capital. In the IIIrd BC, as a result of campaigns of Alexander the Great the city of Gerasa (such is its ancient name), was subjected to the Greek colonization. In IInd – IIIrd BC, when it was part of the Roman Empire, Gerasa experienced its heydays. Ancient Jerash, like Pompeii had tragic end: in 747, it was destroyed by an earthquake. But people compare these two open-air museums not because of this.

   Despite the Arabized name of the city, there are no structures of Arab architecture among its monuments. But there are remains of former magnificence of antiquity, which can be seen in numerous colonnades. Jordanians themselves call Jerash a city of “thousands columns”. No wonder that in 129 AD it was visited by the Roman Emperor Adrian (117-138), in honor of his visit extant triumphal arch was built. Today, among the monuments of that era, we can see two well-preserved amphitheaters, northern and southern, the hippodrome and the forum, as well as the remains of the temples of Zeus and Artemis, which was considered the patroness of Gerasa.

   Gerasa was part of the Union of Ten Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean existed from Ist BC (“Decapolis” in Greek). Of all these cities only its monuments have survived.

   In IV – VII centuries, when the city was part of the Byzantine Empire, 13 Christian churches were built there, including Apostle Peter and Paul, St. George, St. John, Saints Cosmas and Damian, St. Theodore and others, the remains of which can still be seen today.

   Remains of the city after the earthquake survived the surges of Crusades, leaving no memories about them.

   After Petra, Jerash is the most visited place by Jordan guests of this wonderful country.

Keywords Jerash, Petra, Jordan, RomanEmpire, ARAB, Gerasa, Amman