Day tour to Jerash from Amman in Jordan
3 April 2012
A trip to Jerash, to the ruins of the ancient Roman empire city, is particularly interesting because the city is one of the most complete and best preserved in the world. The site, which was actually built and modified over several centuries by a succession of different civilizations including Roman, Byzantine, Greek and Nabataeans, contains numerous buildings and places of great historical and archaeological interest. The complex is located about 30km north of Amman in Jordan, close to the modern Jerash city.
The tour of Jerash begins at the Arch of Hadrian, the great triumphal arch erected south of the city in honor of roman emperor Hadrian in the second century AD. The structure, enormous in size, should have been the main gate to the city of Jerash, but the area between this gate and the one that actually contains the city, was never built and the proposed project of extending the city remained substantially incomplete.
Jerash trip. The great Roman hippodrome south of Jerash, within the arch of Hadrian, was able to hold up to 15,000 spectators and hosted horse racing, as well as athletic contests and games.
Jerash photos. My Jerash tour continues through the south gate. In these photos you can see a mix of different styles and features normally not found elsewhere, such as the capital decorated with acanthus leaves placed under the column and not only at the top.
Pictures of Jerash. This roman forum has an elliptical shape because the adjacent Temple of Zeus (not visible in photo) didn't allow enough space to build a circular forum. The forum is connected to the main road crossing all the city and its function is not entirely clear to the archaeologists, it seems however that this was the main commercial center of the city.
More photos of Jerash showing the magnificent roman forum surrounded by a splendid colonnade connected with the Cardo Maximus (the road that runs through the city along the North-South axis).
The road connecting the roman forum with the north gate (Cardo Maximus) is about 800 meters long and still has original flooring made by slabs of stone of excellent quality, where we can still see the grooves left by wagons. At the sides of the road there are a total of five hundred columns, sometimes having different heights in order to signal particular buildings.
Jerash pictures. The road has a slight convex profile to facilitate the flow of water towards the sides. At the sides of the street, below a sidewalk, there are small drainage channels positioned at regular intervals (picture on the right). Featured in the photo on the left, there is a row of plates of different shapes and sizes, possibly signaling a sort of pedestrian crossing.
On either side of the Cardo Maximus, there are several perpendicular branches (decumani) that lead to other buildings and houses.
As the name suggests, the Temple of Zeus was built by Greek in the second half of the second century AD, on top a pre-exsisting basement of Roman origin. The city of Jerash has been a crossroad for different civilizations (including Roman, Byzantine, Greek, and Nabatean) and each one, in its succession, has demolished, built or just altered the buildings depending on own religion, culture, art and lifestyle.
Photos of the colonnade surrounding the temple of Zeus and details of what remains of the capitals.
The Great Southern Roman Theater was able to accommodate about five thousand people above steps well connected between them in order to let an efficient inflow and outflow of the spectators.
In the photo above you can see the letters carved in the stones, identifying the seats. On the left, the theatre's floor with a stone that identifies exactly the central point from where every sound is perfectly balanced and produces the same echo.
The Three Churches complex (St. George church, St. John church, St. Cosmos and St. Damian church) from VI century AD.
The church of Cosmos and Damian has a wonderful floor consists of a mosaic in excellent conditions, depicting animals and various geometrical shapes.
The temple of Artemis is signaled along the Cardo Maximus by the presence of tall columns that introduce a first access gate (the Propylaea) from where follows a long staircase.
The temple of Artemis has experienced major changes, as well as radical change of its functions, during the succession of various civilizations. The picture on the left is the internal colonnade, while the picture on the right shows the sacred chamber.
Several columns of the Temple of Artemis are still in excellent conditions and have capitals finely decorated in Corinthian style.
The colonnade that surrounds the outside hall outside the Artemis temple, shows obvious damage possibly caused by major earthquakes that have rocked Jordan in recent centuries.
In the middle of the left picture, a large tank used for wine. In the right picture, a reconstruction of the machine powered by water and used by Byzantines to cut the stone accurately.
One of the gates to the North Theatre.
The North Theatre, smaller than the southern one previously seen, could hold up to two thousand people and its function was changed several times over the centuries: from theater, to odeon, to parliament for political conventions (accordingly to the archaeologists, the lower-left picture shows the name of the party assigned to that area of the parliament). The photo below shows the fine decorations carved on walls and columns.
The Nymphaeum, a building finely decorated with images (eg dolphins) that recall its function.
A market area. On the left picture, the middle part where there was a large fountain. In the right picture, the worktable of a butcher.
The Jerash tour ends returning at the oval forum where I meet a cute lizard.