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Field Guide to Jordan

The Siq


The main entrance to the city, a canyon 1.2 km. long, starts with an arch, the remains of which can still be seen, and a dam that is still doing its job. The dam was built by the Nabataeans to stop floods caused by rain water from coming into the Siq, and redirect it through a tunnel into Wadi Al Muthlim, to get to the center of the city and then west all the way to Wadi Araba.

The Siq used to carry water coming from the Musa spring in Wadi Musa, into Petra through two water channels that can be seen on both its sides. One of the channels is carved in the rock while the other is made from ciramic pipes, the remains of these pipes can be seen in the Siq and some are exhibited in the museum in Petra.

The walk through the Siq will introduce you to red sand rock of Petra, as well as the art of the Nabataeans. Many relief sculptures are carved on both sides of this canyon, mostly representing gods in niches, carved in the early Nabataean style, basic forms, cubes, columns with the simpliest capitals, some are with inscriptions mentioning the name of the maker (sculptor) and the name of the man who ordered the sculpture and the name of the god to whom it is dedicated, with the date it was created. Most of these dedications are made by pilgrims to Petra, most are written in Greek. The niches with gods were called "masjada" 1,page 221 in Nabataean, the word in Arabic "masjed" means a mosque.

Lithograph by David Roberts
Lithograph by David Roberts, 1839 with the arch still preserved, you can also see the dam.
The Siq, top view!

The largest of the niches faces you on the way out of the city, it has two cubes representing two of the gods of the Nabataeans, the larger (looks like the goddess carved in Wadi al Siyyagh) has two square eyes and a nose, with a stripe on the forehead representing a wreath, while the smaller has no details on it's face. This sculpture shows how abstract and expressive the early simbolic Nabataean style was. Around this sculpture you can see the original pavement of the Siq, it still covers some other parts of it while the rest is a recent cast of cement.

In the realistic style you can see on the left side of the Siq going in, a sculpture of a caravan of five camels and five men in life size. the lower part of these sculptures is more preserved thanks to the sand that was covering it until it was dug some years ago. The water channel runs behind the feet of the men and their camels.

The Siq makes sure you are prepared phisicaly, mentaly and spiritualy, then opens up to show you the Treasury, and allow you into the beauty of Petra. You can also enjoy the Siq candle lit twice a week, please check Petra by night.

  some digital restoration
picture by Anees Maani picture by Anees Maani picture by Anees Maani picture by Anees Maani
picture by Ammar Fakhouri picture by Karma Hijawi picture by Samira Joukhadar picture by Samira Joukhadar
click for more picture taken in the Siq
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Hand-made souvenirs about Petra
4th Anniversary
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