A.D. 330, over 200 years after Rome took control of Petra, a
radical event took place in the Roman Empire. The first Christian
I, moved the main capital
from Rome to the city of Byzantium. Rulers of this new Byzantine Empire
wanted to spread Christianity.
Over the next century, the people of Petra slowly
abandoned their pagan gods for this new religion. The city's main cathedral,
the Petra Church, was a dazzling symbol of this new era. Even a few once-sacred
tombs, like the Urn Tomb, were turned into churches.
The city's power as a trade center had been falling. Trade routes were
shifting north or toward the sea. In A.D. 363, Petra suffered another
a massive earthquake destroyed many of the city's buildings and its
This natural disaster marked a turning point for the Nabataeans . By A.D. 700, only a few people lived in and around Petra. Over
time, the city was lost to the outside world.
More than 500 years would pass before the ancient city was rediscovered
by Western explorers.