Saturday, August 20, 2005


Jordan - Temple of Artemis, Jerash

Jerash, is the old Gerasa, one of the cities of the Decapolis, mentioned in the Bible. It is 50 kms or so north of Amman, situated in green wooded hills, towards the River Jordan. It disappeared for over 1,000 years after the Muslims seized it and was re-discovered as a site in the early 1800's by a German. Since then the site has been excavated by Germans, French, Italians and now Danish, who were digging an old mosque.

It is the site of some beautiful Roman ruins, most notably the Temples of Zeus and (a giant temple of) Artemis (with columns which moved around in the wind), two major ampitheatres, many churches, a beautiful Oval, with columns (reminiscent of St Peter's in Rome) and a hippodrome. From next month onwards there will be daily displays of chariot racing and Roman military battles, and we managed to catch them practicing. Promises to be great.

Jerash does not have the name or the size of Baalbek where we were last Saturday, but somehow, this site had more of a magic about it, maybe due to its hillside setting and fine state of the buildings and we spent the best part of the day wandering around, with Alex, the chap we had met yesterday.

No plans for tomorrow, but we are very close to the Dead Sea and the recently discovered (and exploited) Baptism site, where John baptised Jesus, so maybe we will go there. In fact, we will have a rest day in and around Amman... maybe find a hotel with a pool.

This eveniong we went out for dinner at the local Cairo restuarant. Delicious food. Fried fresh fish, stuffed with green peppers, served with delicious rice, all for just E 2. Drank down later in a bar with a very large bottle of Amstel beer. Shared with Fred, Alex and Mike (an American attorney... so amazing to be talking about Sarbanes-Oxley Act and associated horrors so far away from office life).

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