On our penultimate day we endure a five hour drive northwards to Amman (aka Philadelphia) with the promise of seeing yet another castle (the Citadel in Amman) – but this time one containing some remnants of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Citadel (Jebel al-Qala’a) is built on the highest hill and has been rebuilt many times. Amman is not the most beautiful of cities and shows all
the signs you would expect of a city which has been rebuilt many times due to earthquake damage. The view however from the top is interesting and you get a very good view of the Roman Theatre (more on this later).
The National Archaeological Museum (within the Citadel) is home to some very interesting exhibits, it is just a pity that they are so badly displayed.
On the left (above) is a Plaster and Bitumen statue dating from the Neolithic Period 6500BC and on the right the oldest statues in the world, dating from the Early Neolithic Period 8000 to 6000 BC
They are housed in a glass cabinet with the minimum of explanation.
There are a few remnants of the Dead Sea Scrolls plus one of the urns they were discovered in. Some 900 scrolls or partial scrolls were discovered and are important because they contain the oldest surviving copies of some Biblical texts and some other documents from the period. Click here to learn more about them. Actually seeing these famous historical documents was quite a moment.
Elsewhere in the museum are a number of fine artefacts completely unlabeled. We assume that this below might be related to the Head of John the Baptist.
Below is a wonderfully carved islamic stone shield of somesort, about 1.5m diameter.
And there are a number of pottery figurines dating from the Roman period – this one showing a women giving birth.
For some strange reason, as you walk around inside, guides are not allowed to talk to their groups about what is in the museum.
Behind the museum is the Umayyad Palace dating from 720AD.
For us one of the best bits was the remains of an old colonnaded street complete with drainage system.
How is might have originally looked is shown in the picture above.
At the bottom of the hill upon which the citadel stands is the Roman Theatre. This is an impressive structure and seats about 1/2 of an O2 in London (i.e. around 7000).
Down at the bottom of the seating is the “Royal Box” where the
Governor sat. From this position he had a close view of the stage and also of the area in front of it which was used for executions and gladiatorial fights.
As usual, we are very interested in the markets and shops. Before we are allowed to explore however, we are allocated two “Tourist Policemen” to protect us. When we asked why because we thought Amman was a safe place, we were told that it was safe was because tourists were allocated a Tourist Policeman! The real reason seems to be that over the past few years there have been some attacks on groups of tourists (the most recent being in 2007) in an attempt to not only a protest about the West but also to destabilise the tourist industry.
How useful our two policeman would have been in the event of an attack is a debatable point! The adage that you know you are old when policeman look young certainly applied.
Sam – we thought you might like this picture of a lorry we saw in the market. It had been stopped by the police for parking badly.
Sam - there was also a dustcart picking up all of the rubbish.
The markets contain the usual displays of strange clothes
One wonders if people actually do wear clothes like this.
We never saw anyone so badly dressed.
As elsewhere in the Middle East, you can have your own perfume made up in small shops
and also buy sugar cane juice which it is claimed has certain interesting properties.