The archaeological site of Jerash is one of the most important in Jordan. In fact, only the Nabataean city of Petra can be considered surpassed. However, Jerash, or Gerasa as it is sometimes cited in English, is more of a typical site than the spectacular and famous excavated city. And within the entire set of ruins there are several buildings and areas that stand out, and without a doubt among them are the Hadrian's Arch and the imposing row of columns that flank both sides of theMaximum Thistle.
The origins of this city date back to the Bronze Age, and even to the Iron Age, since scholars believe that there may already have been inhabitants here between the years 3,200 and 1,200 BC. C. However, the traces of these first settlers are smaller, since in the 1st century BC. C. until here the Roman legionnaires arrived, who conquered the city and also transformed it, giving it its years of maximum splendor.
And even here came theEmperor Hadrian himself, between the years 129 and 130, at which time the commemorative triumphal arch bearing his name was erected. A very common type of work in Roman times as evidenced by the arches of Titus or Constantine. On the other hand, it is not surprising that Hadrian came here, an emperor born in Hispania, but who was a true lover of theGreek culture and other areas of the East reached by the Roman Empire.
The Peak Cardo in the center of Jerash
During the centuries of Roman occupation, and the subsequent belonging to the Byzantine Empire, Jerash was a very vital city, but after that the decline came, it stopped falling into oblivion and was gradually abandoned. Until an earthquake in the year 747, with several subsequent aftershocks and different war conflicts, caused it to finally be buried. But luckily, the German archaeologist, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen started excavating it in 1806.
Somehow the work has not finished yet, since we are facing a city whose perimeter is about 800,000 square meters. That is why it is one of the most spectacular sites in Middle East, where there is a racecourse, temple baths, two theaters, etc…, as well as later remains that tell us about the Christian occupation.
However, the basic scheme is that of Roman urbanism. Hence the presence of a large avenue from north to south that articulates the entire street layout. It is the Cardo Maximus that extends for about 800 meters, along which, on either side, slender columns of composite order rise, which have miraculously remained standing over the centuries.
And not only that, the Cardo Maximus is crossed by two perpendicular routes, the decumanus. And at both intersections rise two tetrapyles.What is a tetrapyl? A square plan monument with gates on all four sides. In this case, it is worth highlighting the Northern Tetrapyle, dedicated to the wife of the emperor Severe Septimius (193 – 211).