Archaeologists astounded by the discovery of engineering in Petra: "Hard to do today" |  Science |  News

Archaeologists astounded by the discovery of engineering in Petra: “Hard to do today” | Science | News

Petra: The archaeologist takes a look at the ancient water storage system

Petra is buried deep in Jordan in the Middle East, surrounded by rugged canyons and desert mountains. It was once a vibrant center of politics, culture and economics, and was one of the region’s most important ancient crossing points where traders stopped on their travels. The area has been inhabited since at least 7,000 BC, with remnants of its bygone era scattered across its dusty plains.

It was only when the Nabataeans moved to Petra as early as the 4th century BC that the city reached its full potential.

They made it the capital of their kingdom and soon faced great challenges from surrounding powers such as the Greek and Roman empires, both of which attempted to invade Petra.

The Romans eventually succeeded in 106 AD and settled in the city for hundreds of years until a massive earthquake tore the metropolis apart in the 4th century AD.

Despite the efforts of the Byzantine Empire to reinvigorate the city later, Petra fell into disrepair and became a place for local shepherds to shelter from the elements.

Archeology: The engineering works found in Petra stunned researchers (Image: Youtube / Smithsonian Channel)

Petra: The ancient city lies deep in the southwestern desert of Jordan

Petra: The ancient city lies deep in the southwestern desert of Jordan (Image: Google Maps)

For researchers, it’s a sad story, as Petra was home to some of the world’s greatest minds, as explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, “Secrets: Riddle of Petra.”

The city’s water and sewage system has amazed archaeologists for years, with the program narrator remarking, “Petra appears to have thrived on Nabataean skill in managing scarce water resources.

“The Nabataean storage and irrigation system was an incredible engineering marvel, a complex network of cisterns, dams and canals that harnessed water from desert springs and its four inches of annual rainfall to maintain an all-over water supply. year”.

Petra is in a climatically hostile place for a city: carved out of a narrow canyon called Al Siq, a desert landscape envelops buildings with temperatures often reaching 42 ° C (107 ° F) or more, with no water sources in the vicinity.

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Engineering: the city structures are carved into the rock face

Engineering: the city structures are carved into the rock face (Image: GETTY)

But, at its peak, Petra is believed to have hosted 30,000 people, despite the indigenous water resources being enough for just two or three thousand people.

Dr Thomas Paradise, a geoscientist at the University of Arkansas, said, “It would be quite difficult in the 21st century to be able to create a city that was sustainable and very well lived.”

Dr Christopher Tuttle, Council of American Overseas Research Centers, said, “It is a testament to the resilience of the Nabataeans and their ingenuity that they could modify the landscape to meet their needs.”

The system created by the Nabataeans begins at the top of the hills, where dozens of reservoirs arranged around the city landscape captured and stored every drop of winter rain.

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Irrigation: where irrigation systems are placed in and around Petra

Irrigation: where irrigation systems are placed in and around Petra (Image: Youtube / Smithsonian Channel)

Terracotta: some of the ancient pipes are still found around the city

Terracotta: some of the ancient pipes are still found around the city (Image: Youtube / Smithsonian Channel)

Dr. Paradise explained: “[At] at the highest point of the valley, we have a cistern that could collect water from the entire summit area.

“It has been so successful in retaining water that we can see how high and rich the water was being collected.”

Water flowed to Petra through a huge crossing of canals.

Where the water would have passed are broken clay pipes, with Dr. Paradise noting: “They would have been covered, pipes and connected all the way.

“These are very similar to the same clay pipes we use around the planet two thousand years later.

“And we have over a hundred miles of these canals across Petra where the water would be pumped into the city very slowly, stored again in a series of cisterns.

“They don’t have a very steep slope, it’s a very gentle angle: if it were too steep, the water would flow too fast and rise, and if it was too flat, the water supply in the various tanks would be too slow.”

Research on the water system concluded that it provided Petra with 12 million gallons of water per day, enough to meet all of the city’s domestic and agricultural needs.

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Archaeological Discoveries: Some of the most revolutionary artifacts ever recorded (Image: Express Newspapers)

“These are very similar to the same clay pipes we use around the planet two thousand years later.

“And we have over a hundred miles of these canals across Petra where the water would be pumped into the city very slowly, stored again in a series of cisterns.

“They don’t have a very steep slope, it’s a very gentle angle: if it were too steep, the water would flow too fast and rise, and if it was too flat, the water supply in the various tanks would be too slow.”

Research on the water system concluded that it provided Petra with 12 million gallons of water per day, enough to meet all of the city’s domestic and agricultural needs.

Research: Dr. Thomas Paradise reaches the highest point above Petra where the system begins

Research: Dr. Thomas Paradise reaches the highest point above Petra where the system begins (Image: Youtube / Smithsonian Channel)

The system was so efficient that there was even enough water for a 140-foot public swimming pool in the royal gardens.

The narrator described it as “unprecedented luxury in the middle of a desert”.

Dr Paradise added: “We are looking at a 2,000-year-old engineering feat that is nothing short of genius.”

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