Courtyards and Colonnades

Part of the Petra exhibition.

While rock-cut tombs are today the dominant features of Petra, freestanding colonnades would have stood out in this vast landscape 2,000 years ago. Following Greek and Roman precedent, the Nabataeans used rows of columns to delineate courtyards and other outdoor spaces.

Columns were also used both inside and outside temples, houses, and tombs to decorate and define separate spaces. The Temple of the Winged Lions, for example, had two rows of freestanding columns that marked the sanctuary's side aisles. An additional series of columns surrounded the central raised altar. Columns attached to the interior walls were interspersed with recessed niches.