Gallery 2: Foundations of Petra

Beginning with the bust of the Nabatean supreme deity Dhu-Shara, this exhibition reveals the nature of the Petra region, chronological timeline, and “the history before the Nabateans”- from the Stone Age to the Edomite Kingdom that flourished in the Iron Age- through the display of artifacts from several archaeological sites such as Neolithic Beidha and Edomite Tawilan.

Flint Dagger

This exceptional dagger was made by pressure flint knapping. It is a rare example of daggers from the Neolithic and its owner must have had a high social status.


Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (7500-7000 BC) JP6920

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Stone Altar

This altar was made from local limestone. It bears incised designs of palm trees, and human and animal figures; one side has an archer on a horse, pointing his arrow at an ibex.

Khirbat al-Mu`allaq (between Wadi Musa and at-Tayiba)

Edomite (8th-7th century BC)

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Dhu-Shara, Lord of the Sharah Mountains

Dhu-Shara was the head of the Nabataean pantheon of gods and the lord of the Sharah Mountains of Southern Jordan. This indicates the importance of the Sharah Range, which provided Petra with the bases for its life: water, agricultural produce and raw materials.

With the spread of the Graeco-Roman culture, Dhu-Shara was identified with Zeus, the head of the Greek pantheon and consequently represented as a bearded man. This limestone sculpture is, however, in the Oriental Style of Nabataean art.

This bust was discovered in the collapsed debris of Petra’s Temenos Gate along the main street in the City Centre. It was carved to be seen from below and may have been originally placed at the top of the gate. Considering the size and weight (around 1.6 tons) of the bust, this placement is a tribute to Nabataean engineering skills.

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