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Wednesday 10 September 2014

[Tuesday 9 September 2014]

Region Hotel, Amman
DAY 2: Amman B/L/D
After breakfast, you will take a tour of the historical capital city, Amman. Your guide will take you to the Archaeological and Folklore Museums, the Citadel, Blue Mosque and the Amphitheatre. You will then continue to the Eastern Desert to see Al Karraneh Castle, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Amra Castle and Al Azraq Castle where Lawrence of Arabia resided and wrote part of his book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. Return to your hotel in Amman to spend the night.



Day 253 Job 36-37; Psalms 29; Romans 5
I woke up ca.7am after some 3 hours’ sleep… or perhaps Janet woke me up because we were all due to meet in the lobby at 8.15am.… I’d intended to go down for breakfast, but after showering, shaving, etc., there was no time for that. Janet reported that she’d only got ca.½-hour’s sleep. However, despite long trips today in another, somewhat more comfortable “dolmuş”-style mini-coach, there was no repeat of the “Amalfi Coast” illness with Janet (→15 June 2014) that I feared. I replaced the exhausted Duracell alkaline batteries in my camera with some of the Panasonic zinc carbon ones we’d brought. We met up with the others, and Ashraf our guide, and set out first to visit the Blue Mosque. Ashraf told us, en route to the mosque or later, about Jordan. The British mandate of Transjordan was set up in 1921 following the struggle, supported by Britain and other European nations, against the Ottomans. He spoke of the establishment of the monarchy, but I’ve forgotten the details. A native population of ca.6 million has swelled to ca.10 million because of refugee immigration. The chief industries are: potash, extracted from the Dead Sea (engineer John had been employed on this in 1979); phosphate, mined; tourism; and agriculture. 45% of the population are employed in government jobs. He also mentioned two national dishes of Jordan. On arrival at an attached tourist bazaar, the women had to don head-to-toe black garments with hoods before we all entered the mosque itself. My feet tolerated the taking off of shoes, helped by the fact that the mosque was thickly carpeted.



Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 08:55:34
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 08:55:58
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 08:56:06
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 08:57:54
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 08:59:28
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman

Picking up a copy of the Qur’an from a shelf, Ashraf pointed out the chapter-and-verse structure of it, similar to the way the Bible is divided. The Qur’anic scheme, though, I guess, was probably original — 7th century — and predated the division of the original books of the Bible into chapters by over 6 centuries, and verses (especially the NT) by 9 centuries.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:09:48
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:12:02
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:12:14
King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman

I asked Ashraf what denomination the large church across the road from the mosque was: Coptic Orthodox.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:15:42
Nearby Coptic Orthodox Church


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:18:44
Conference hall on the Mosque site

We boarded the “dolmuş” for our next stop: for a walk around in Amman Citadel. Although this had been reconstructed numerous times, it perhaps marked the original extent of the city “Rabbah” in 2 Samuel 11:1 where David had Uriah killed.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:37:06


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:40:10
Amman Citadel


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:42:08
Amman Citadel


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:42:22
Amman Citadel


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:42:32
Amman Citadel


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:42:54
Roman Temple of Hercules


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:45:02
Looking more or less west


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:45:28
Looking more or less east


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:47:58
Looking more or less south


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:47:58 (detail)
Amphitheatre


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:47:58 (detail)
Amphitheatre


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:49:50
Another view eastwards


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:51:12
Roman Temple of Hercules


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:52:06


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:56:12
Roman Temple of Hercules (background); Byzantine Church (foreground)


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 09:56:26
Byzantine Church


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:01:58


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:02:42
Umayyad Cistern


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:04:04
Umayyad Cistern


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:05:08
Channel to the Cistern


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:05:50
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:07:10


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:07:38
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:08:56
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:09:30
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:10:14
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:10:46
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:14:10
Umayyad Monumental gateway


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:16:16
Tiny lizard


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:16:28
Umayyad Residential units


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:20:46
Jordanian Air Force aircraft taking supplies to a refugee camp


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:22:14
Umayyad Mosque


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:23:48
Roman Temple of Hercules


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:25:34
Stone gate

On the Citadel site was the Archaeological Museum, which we visited.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:28:36
Jordan Archaeological Museum


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:32:02
Jordan Archaeological Museum


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:32:16
Jordan Archaeological Museum

There was a replica of the “Mesha stele” written in Moabite script, some letters of which I formerly used to supplement the Greek alphabet, before I started to use the Cyrillic alphabet, for “secret writing”. I wondered about writing which appeared in the area between reconstructed fragments. This was because after the text on the stele was first transcribed, the stele was broken by treasure hunters, and not all the pieces were found and reassembled; but the text could be inserted from the copy.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:33:52


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:35:04
Copy of the Mesha Stele


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:35:24
Copy of the Mesha Stele


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:36:34
Jordan Archaeological Museum


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:37:36
Jordan Archaeological Museum

One mosaic caught my attention with its Greek inscription: “[Γ]ΕΩΡΓΙΑΘΕΟΔΩΡΟΥ…” Who were “Georgia” and “Theodore”?[i]

[i] I stumbled across the answer on 27 September 2014. See also the write-up of the visit to the ruins of Jerash, 11 September 2014, specifically the church of Saints Cosmas and Damian.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:42:48
Mosaic: “[Γ]ΕΩΡΓΙΑΘΕΟΔΩΡΟΥ…”


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:45:22
Jordan Archaeological Museum


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:48:52
Hercules’ hand and elbow


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:51:18
Amman Citadel


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:52:04
Amman Citadel


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:52:56
Jordanian Air Force aircraft taking supplies to a refugee camp


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 10:57:20
View of Amman from the Citadel

From the citadel one could see the Roman amphitheatre, which we visited next. Despite the heat, and despite unsteady feet and the lack of handholds on the way down I climbed steep, uneven steps to near the top. The “missing” guy from yesterday, Peter, went to the very top.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:17:06
Colonnaded street outside the Roman theatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:17:32
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman: commoners’ entrance


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:18:34
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:19:46
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:20:00
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:23:08
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:24:10
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:24:40
Citadel wall seen from the Roman Amphitheatre, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:25:56
Roman Amphitheatre, Amman

There was a small museum on this site too.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:30:04
Folklore Museum, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:30:34
Folklore Museum, Amman


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 11:32:40
Folklore Museum, Amman

Then we were taken to a restaurant for lunch. This was under awnings of curtains in an open-air courtyard. There was too much food served to possibly eat. The head waiter took more than a little notice of blonde, buxom Jacqueline (perhaps the ideal of beauty in the Arab world) and was engaging her in conversation.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 12:08:20
Lunch


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 12:36:46
Lunch


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 13:01:06
Lunch

The afternoon was quite gruelling. Ashraf’s choice of music — Jordanian — didn’t help: one song was tolerable, a bit long, but the second and third and… all sounded much the same: a lot of quarter-tone melisma that eventually sounded like tuneless wailing to ears attune to semitone-based western music. There was a journey of some 1½ hours to our first stop, on a modern though cracked, worn, and therefore bumpy road, through flat or slightly rolling, sandy and stony desert, with only electricity transmission lines to break the monotony. Not complete monotony: there were limestone quarries from time to time, and lorries laden with large rocks. And away in the distance here and there were little plumes of dust whipped up, I assumed, by eddying desert winds. There was the occasional police checkpoint, but we weren’t stopped. We visited Al Karraneh “castle”, which looked like a fortification, but was built as a caravanserai. The intention was the change the trade route of the time. As we walked from the “dolmuş” to the site the wind didn’t offer any refreshment at all; it was hot. Time was, when this area was green, but even as late as since the 1980s it had dried. Such stations along trade routes were separated by 15–20km, the distance a camel would walk in a day.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:00:00
Qasr al-Kharaneh


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:03:48
Qasr al-Kharaneh


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:11:54
Qasr al-Kharaneh: rooms off the gateway

There were two storeys, and we went up by quite shallow stairs, built that way, it was said, to accommodate donkeys with burdens that could then be unloaded upstairs. Arguing against this having been primarily a fortress were windows not facing directly out, as arrow-slits would do, but at an angle, to avoid too much sunlight and to act as a wind-break.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:13:10
Qasr al-Kharaneh: upper-storey oblique window


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:13:48
Qasr al-Kharaneh: upper storey


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:16:10
Qasr al-Kharaneh: upper-storey room


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:16:10 (detail 1)


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:16:10 (detail 2)


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:16:32
Qasr al-Kharaneh


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:17:54
Qasr al-Kharaneh


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:18:08
Qasr al-Kharaneh: Descending to the lower storey


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:19:42
Qasr al-Kharaneh


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:20:34
Qasr al-Kharaneh


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:21:58
Qasr al-Kharaneh: Gateway

After re-boarding the “dolmuş” we went on to Amra “castle”, in fact built as a hunting lodge, with Roman-style cold, tepid and hot baths, and adorned with Roman-style frescoes, some of them depicting nudity and others gods such as Dionysus. The survival of such material in a Muslim country was surprising. Here, the Panasonic batteries, which had quite early started to cause the “battery low” indicator to come on and had once or twice caused the camera to shut down, were now finally exhausted, and I had to switch to using Janet’s USB-charged camera.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:44:56
Qasr Amra


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:57:56
Qasr Amra: frescoes


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:58:14
Qasr Amra: frescoes


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:58:32
Qasr Amra: frescoes


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 15:59:28
Qasr Amra: frescoes


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:00:02
Qasr Amra: floor mosaic


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:00:40
Qasr Amra: fresco


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:00:52
Qasr Amra: fresco


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:01:22
Qasr Amra: frescoes


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:01:40
Qasr Amra: fresco


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:02:12
Qasr Amra: frescoes


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:02:44
Qasr Amra: zodiac painting on the dome of the caldarium


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:03:06
Qasr Amra: under-floor of the caldarium


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:06:26
Qasr Amra


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:06:54
Qasr Amra


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:08:10
Qasr Amra


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:11:52
Qasr Amra


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:16:06
Qasr Amra: tent offering refreshments at the site entrance

We got to our third stop, Al Azraq Castle, a real castle this time, ca.4.40pm. It was supposed to be open till 5pm, sometimes later, but it was found to be closed. The exclamation “Good!” from the Indian lady on our trip met with surprise but after consideration sympathy. We got out and looked at two sides of the castle from without, before setting off back to Amman.


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:42:28
Qasr al-Azraq


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:43:36
Qasr al-Azraq


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:45:42
Qasr al-Azraq


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:46:34
Qasr al-Azraq


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 16:46:34 (detail)
Qasr al-Azraq


Wednesday 10 September 2014 — 17:13:38
Camp for Syrian refugees

We arrived outside the hotel, ca.6.30pm. Before we went in, Janet suggested that we first go to the supermarket, which we found some 200 or 300 yards distant. She’d forgotten to pack a toothbrush and shampoo for herself; I needed some batteries more powerful and long-lasting than the Panasonic zinc carbon ones; she wanted a supply of diet cola; and we both needed a supply of bottled water. I was hot, footsore and weary, but it was better to do that than return to the hotel and not feel like doing it later. We found all we needed, including Duracell batteries, and Janet was pleased it was Pepsi not Coke. We went back to the room, then shortly afterwards down for dinner, which was the familiar and comfortable buffet style. Then, back to the room. Transferred the 85 photos off my camera (19:34–19:37) and the 22 from Janet’s (19:43–19:44). I had to rename these latter, because I’d set the camera’s 12-hour clock to “am” instead of “pm”. Went through the photos using Windows Photo Viewer and rotated those that needed it (19:53–20:05). Janet went to bed ca.9pm. I stayed up updating this before going to bed ca.10.30pm.

[Thursday 11 September 2014]



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