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After descending from the High Sacrifice Place along the west face of the Jabal al-Madhbah (see the previous tour), one reaches the point where the Wadi Farasa East begins as a narrow gorge. Crashed boulders and rubble give an idea of the force with which the water masses pour down during heavy rain. The wadi is labeled "East" because there is a parallel western valley that merges with this one further down.
The upper area was named "Gartental" (Garden valley) by the explorer Gustaf Dalman when in spring 1904 he found a secluded idyll of grass fields, broom and oleander bushes between colourful rock faces. This is where the name "Garden Temple" or "Garden Triclinium" comes from for the rock monument with the columned portal, which can already be seen from above.
Rock cut steps to its left descend to the Soldier Tomb complex, which occupies the entire width of Wadi Farasa East. The magnificent mausoleum with three reliefs of standing men on the façade, and the most sumptuous triclinium of Petra on the opposite side were once connected by a courtyard with colonnades. It was entered through the portal of a large two-storey building with several, partly heated rooms. As Stephan G. Schmid, excavations director of the International Wadi Farasa Project (IWFP) wrote, the overall plan of the complex is inspired by palace buildings of the Hellenistic and Roman Mediterranean region.
"With its sophisticated water supply system and gardens, the combination of sacred areas and spaces for the dead with installations for the living, Wadi al-Farasa East must have once offered a very impressive picture, a kind of paradise on earth, that is often described as an ideal utopia in ancient literature." (S. G. Schmid, p. 344.)
The Soldier Tomb complex, the Garden Triclinium, the cisterns and water pipes and all the installations for protection against flash floods were probably built in the third quarter of the 1st century AD, as part of a comprehensive building programme in Petra. When the earthquake of 363 AD caused severe destruction here as well, the complex facilities were already unused and left to decay. More about this on the image pages.
The Wadi Farasa continues for a long stretch at the foot of the Jabal al-Madhbah. On the western slope of the mountain there are many tomb facades, also staggered on top of each other, and several votive niches. Some of them we present in the last part of this informative photo tour, for example the so-called Renaissance Tomb.
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Compilation of information, editing, translations, photos: Universes in Universe, unless otherwise indicated
The International Wadi Al-Farasa Project (IWFP). Exploration Season 1999
In: Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 44, Amman, 2000, pp. 335-354