Even though it lacks the details of bigger books such as Udi Levy's "The Lost Civilization of Petra" (a hardback book), it doesn't mean it lacks details altogether! I found this book to be a great source of information while I was travelling since it is small and stocked full of info on Petra, the Nabateans, and more.
This book is loaded with colorful well-photographed pictures and lithographs, and lively-written text which makes reading it a breeze. I fit this book in my back pocket while in Petra and pulled it out to get details on things like the great cisterns and the waterway through the main siq. The section at the end of the book on modern plans to try and preserve Petra's vulnerable sandstone is very interesting... Electophoresis?!?! Wow!
The book wraps up everything with a chronology at the end and a list of Nabataea's kings. A very enjoyable and informative read considering its small size... Big things do come in small packages!
Semitic name, Reqem or Raqmu, is said to mean 'striped,' or 'multicolored,' a reference to the extraodinary range of colors of its sandstone. Monuments carved into living rock may seem indesructible, yet the site is threatened by natural erosion nd by the neglect of centuries. Today, remedies are being explored to halt this deterioration."(Page 114). What a way to complete the most detailed history of Petra, by indicating the preservation needed to protect Petra for posterity.
Putting the "cart before the horse" I just have to marvel (before I neglect to mention) that this book includes a helpful chronology of events at the very back of the book.
"Petra...the name is said to come from the Greek word for stone, or rock, since the city itself was hollowed out of the rock. But it may just as well have come from the Arabic batara, meaning to cut or hew, since the city was actually carved from rock... perhaps this is even the better etymology, since this was a place cut off from the rest of the world. --Nabil Naoum, Le Chateau de la princesse (The Castle of the Princes), from Petra: Le Dit des pierres (Petra: The Stones Speak), edited by Phillippe Cardinal, 1993."(Page 96.)
The book begins with Petra emerging from obscurity with the first archaeological missions. The book comprises the history of Petras peoples; lengthy revelations of The Nabataeans (and their other cities, too); "location, location, location!"; part of the caravan route and its participation in international trade; nomadic to stationary living; city planning; housing; temples, sanctuaries; and anatomy of forms of architecture. "It is Petra's funerary architecture, most famous in its rock-hewn form, that best reflects this dual cultural identity, Eastern and Hellenistic. Interest has focused on the facades that mark the entry to a funerary chamber excavated directly into the rock. These can be understood as a monumental form of the nefesh, an erect stele that indicates the presence of a deceased, just as a baetyl indicates the presence of a divinity. The facade shows the importance of the deceased and of his or her family..."(Page 84). Such rich architectural fetes are revealed to us within the framework of this work! Do take time to study the water system of Petra.
"...due to a series of earthquakes, especially one in the 8th century, construction seems to have come to a halt there earlier than it did in regions farther to the north. We know little about Petra between the 7th and 10th centuries. By the Middle Ages, it may have been virtually deserted. We know that in the 12th century, one of the Crusader kings of Jerusalem, Baldwin I or II, built a castle at al-Wu'eira, in the Valley of Moses. Few medieval documents refer to the city, but a confused memory of its ancient rank as the capital of a far-reaching kingdom livd on. Oddly, traces of its old Aramaic and Babataean name, Arken or Reqem, meaning 'the Multi-colored,' survived. In 1217, a German pilgrim named Thetmar passed very close to a place he called 'Archim, formerly the metropolis of the Arabs.' The Arab chronicler Numeiri (1279-1332) gives a short description of the site as it was when the Mamluk Sultan Baybars I of Egypt and Syria saw it is 1276. He mentions the tomb of Aaron, the ruins of a fort, and the 'marvelous' ornate houses cut into the cliffs, but he does not name it. Neither writer says anything of its inhabitants. The Nabataeans themselves, and the Greco-Latin name Petra, remained lost until the rediscovery of the city by the first Western travelers of the 19th century. The enthusiasm aroused by this discovery has not faded, and the work of exploration and recovery is nowhere near to being finished. Nearly two hundred years of research, in fact, have raised more questions than answers. New avenues of investigation emerge daily. Most of the city still remains to be excavated and the civilization of Nabatea finally revealed." (Page 94-95).
Thank goodness the Jordanian people have someone like Queen Noor who can appreciate the importance of Petra, who as a patron of architecture, thanks to her background in this field, is a proponent to its preservation.
The staff of The Harry N. Abrams, Inc., publishing house have created a masterpiece in "Petra: lost city of the ancient world." The many books I have read with regard to Biblical architecture/archaeology, have seriously been lacking good arial photography, and the people at Abrams certainly satisfied my ravenousness desire for pictures of Petra!