Petra Today

Part of the Petra exhibition.

The city of Petra in Jordan
Photo: © Jordan Tourism Board, North America

Our knowledge of Petra changes every day. With less than one-twentieth of the ancient city unearthed, new wonders constantly emerge at the hands of Jordanian, French, Swiss, and American archaeologists. Excavators found an immense pool complex near the Great Temple in 1998; in 2000, a Nabataean villa outside the Siq. In a stunning 2003 discovery, rock-cut tombs came to light beneath the Treasury, challenging old ideas about this iconic building. Now as in the past, Petra has the capacity to astonish.

But this ancient metropolis exists in today's world. Two thousand years of wind and water have taken a toll on its fragile stone. Visitors have increased ten-fold since 1990. The city must be protected from the elements--and its admirers. Scientists and engineers from around the world are rebuilding Nabataean dams and planning restoration of the ancient water supply system, marveling as they work at the genius of Petra's original inhabitants.