Travel Special: Nestled In The Deserts, Petra

Chiseled precisely into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was "lost" to the Western world for millions of years.

Based amid hilly desert canyons and mountains in what is now the southwestern edge of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Petra was once a booming trading midpoint and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106.

The city sat bare and in near collapse for centuries. Only in the early 1800s did a European traveler veil himself in Bedouin costume and prevade the mysterious locale.

In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was announced a UNESCO World Heritage Site , and in 2007 it was called one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Certain scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were shooted in Petra. The film’s fictional Canyon of the Concave Moon was modeled on the eastern hallway to Petra, a 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon noted as the Siq that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury)—perchance the most stunning of Petra's dozens of amazing features.

In the movie’s climactic final scenes, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery blowout forth from the Siq and walk deep into the tangles of the Treasury in their chase to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological myth bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

In real world, the Treasury is nothing more than a color with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.

"You can't really say that anything in Indiana Jones is accurate," Haifa University archaeologist Ronny Reich said. "I was once asked in the United States if one of the responsibilities of Israeli archaeologists is to chase down Nazis. I told them, 'Not any more.'"

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