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Jerash, Jordan: Where East Meets West

- Kathryn

Check out the video over here!

Day two in Jordan began with a trip to Jerash, known in antiquity as Gerasa. Reaching the height of its power in the late first century, Jerash was a place of power and prosperity. Today visitors can see the many influences of the West, especially the ancient Romans.

Three of the most notable features of this ancient city were the columns, Hadrian’s Arch, and the Roman forum.

  • The columns are the most recognizable feature of Jerash and were in surprisingly good condition! Though, our guide, Khaled, showed us one that wobbled ominously above us. You can’t see it move, but when you put your hand at the bottom, you can feel it sway. We were also surprised by another incredibly long set of columns that formed a colonnade for charioteers. Grooves in the stone from years of use were easily visible. The road went straight into…a hill. This is evidence of the nature’s wear and tear on the city and that there is still something to be excavated!
  • While it was Emperor Trajan who is responsible for opening up trade routes, it was Emperor Hadrian who had a triumphal arch erected in his honor at Jerash.
  • The Roman forum is a third example of the Western influence in Jordan. While most forums were synonymous with a town square, this forum was built in an unusual oval. It was interesting to see the differences in masonry. The inner oval was constructed with rounder, less exact stones of varying color whereas the outer oval was cut more precisely and evenly, indicating a development in architecture and pleasing the art historian in me (AP Art History in action)!
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