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Jerash

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Jerash, the Gerasa of Antiquity, is the capital and largest city of Jerash Governorate
Jerash Governorate
Jerash is one of the governorates of Jordan; it is located north of Amman, Jordan's capital. It carrys the name of its capital and largest city, Jerash City....

 (محافظة جرش), which is situated in the north of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, 48 kilometres (29.8 mi) north of the capital Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

 towards Syria. Jerash Governorate's geographical features vary from cold mountains to fertile valleys from 250 to 300 m (820.2 to 984.3 ft) above sea level, suitable for growing a wide variety of crops.

History



Jerash is known for the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the "Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

 of the Middle East or Asia", referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation (though Jerash was never buried by a volcano). Jerash is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 cities in the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

. It was a city
City
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

 of the Decapolis
Decapolis
The Decapolis was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status...

.

Jerash was the home of Nicomachus
Nicomachus
Nicomachus was an important mathematician in the ancient world and is best known for his works Introduction to Arithmetic and Manual of Harmonics in Greek. He was born in Gerasa, in the Roman province of Syria , and was strongly influenced by Aristotle...

 of Gerasa (Greek: Νικόμαχος) (c. 60 – c. 120) who is known for his works Introduction to Arithmetic
Introduction to Arithmetic
Introduction to Arithmetic was written by Nicomachus almost two thousand years ago, and contains both philosophical prose and very basic mathematical ideas. Nicomachus refers to Plato quite often, and wrote about how philosophy can only be possible if one knows enough about mathematics. This is...

(Arithmetike eisagoge), The Manual of Harmonics and The Theology of Numbers.

Recent excavations show that Jerash was already inhabited during the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 (3200 BC - 1200 BC). After the Roman conquest in 63 BC
63 BC
Year 63 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Cicero and Hibrida...

, Jerash and the land surrounding it were annexed by the Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and later joined the Decapolis cities. In AD 90, Jerash was absorbed into the Roman province of Arabia, which included the city of Philadelphia (modern day Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

). The Romans ensured security and peace in this area, which enabled its people to devote their efforts and time to economic development and encouraged civic building activity.

In the second half of the first century AD, the city of Jerash achieved great prosperity. In AD 106, the Emperor Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 constructed roads throughout the provinces and more trade came to Jerash. The Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 visited Jerash in AD 129-130. The triumphal arch (or Arch of Hadrian) was built to celebrate his visit. A remarkable Latin inscription records a religious dedication set up by members of the imperial mounted bodyguard "wintering" there.

The city finally reached a size of about 800,000 square metres within its walls. The Persian invasion in AD 614 caused the rapid decline of Jerash. However, the city continued to flourish during the Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 Period, as shown by recent excavations. In AD 749, a major earthquake destroyed much of Jerash and its surroundings. During the period of the Crusades, some of the monuments were converted to fortresses, including the Temple of Artemis. Small settlements continued in Jerash during the Ayyubid, Mameluk
Mameluk dynasty
Throughout the history of the Muslim world there have been a number of Mamluk dynasties:*The Mamluk dynasty of Delhi ruled India between 1211 and 1290*The Mamluk dynasty of Baghdad ruled that city and the surrounding areas until 1832...

 and Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 periods. Excavation and restoration of Jerash has been almost continuous since the 1920s.

Ancient Jerash


Remains in the Greco-Roman Jerash include:
  • The Corinthium column
    Corinthium column
    The Corinthium column is an ancient pillar in the ancient city of Jerash in Jordan....

  • Hadrian
    Hadrian
    Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

    's Arch
  • The circus/hippodrome
    Hippodrome
    A hippodrome was a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words "hippos and "dromos"...

  • The two large temples (dedicated to Zeus
    Zeus
    In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

     and Artemis
    Artemis
    Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

    )
  • The nearly unique oval Forum
    Forum (Roman)
    A forum was a public square in a Roman municipium, or any civitas, reserved primarily for the vending of goods; i.e., a marketplace, along with the buildings used for shops and the stoas used for open stalls...

    , which is surrounded by a fine colonnade,
  • The long colonnaded street or cardo
    Cardo
    The cardo was a north-south oriented street in Roman cities, military camps, and coloniae. The cardo, an integral component of city planning, was lined with shops and vendors, and served as a hub of economic life. The main cardo was called cardo maximus.Most Roman cities also had a Decumanus...

  • Two theatres (the Large South Theatre and smaller North Theatre)
  • Two baths, and a scattering of small temples
  • An almost complete circuit of city walls.

Most of these monuments were built by donations of the city's wealthy citizens.
From AD 350, a large Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 community lived in Jerash, and between AD 400-600, more than thirteen churches were built, many with superb mosaic floors. A cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 was built in the fourth century. An ancient synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 with detailed mosaics, including the story of Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

, was found beneath a church.

Modern Jerash




Jerash has developed dramatically in the last century due to its strategic location in the heart of Jordan and the growing importance of the tourism industry to the city. Jerash is now the second-most popular tourist attraction in Jordan, closely behind the splendid ruins of Petra
Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

. The ruins have been carefully preserved and spared from encroachment, with the modern city sprawling to the west of ancient Jerash's city walls.

Souf
Souf
Souf is a City in Jordan, set over a series of mountains at an altitude of 1,000 meters. Souf is situated 35 miles north of Amman the capital of Jordan. The total population of Souf exceeds 25,000 people, while it covers a wide area of agricultural land considered the widest in Jerash...

 was the seed for modern Jerash. For many centuries Souf was the center of the al-Meradh area during the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The Al-Meradh region was called this because it was the only region in the north of Jordan which resisted the southern Bedouin looting attacks that used to be launched by Bani Sakher tribes. They led a resistance alliance which finally succeeded in defeating the Bedouin.

Jerash actually re-inhabited by the local people of Souf and the surrounding villages who are now the vast majority of the city population. It became a destination for many successive waves of foreign migrants. The first wave started during the second half of the nineteenth century when the Syrians
Demographics of Syria
Syrians today are an overall indigenous Levantine people. While modern-day Syrians are commonly described as Arabs by virtue of their modern-day language and bonds to Arab culture and history...

 (Shwam) and the Circassians camped nearby the old ruins. The new immigrants have been welcomed by the local people and settled down in the city. Later, Jerash also witnessed waves of Palestinian refugees who flow to the city in 1948 and 1967.

However, recently the city of Jerash has been expanded to include many of the surrounding villages including Souf
Souf
Souf is a City in Jordan, set over a series of mountains at an altitude of 1,000 meters. Souf is situated 35 miles north of Amman the capital of Jordan. The total population of Souf exceeds 25,000 people, while it covers a wide area of agricultural land considered the widest in Jerash...

, Dairelliat, Thougretasfour, Jaba, Aljbarat and Majar. Other important villages in the governate include: Sakèb, Kitteh, Nahlé, Burma, Mustabah, Jubba, Raimoun, Kufr Khall
Kufr Khall
Kufr Khall, , is a town in the north of Jordan, in the Jerash Governorate.The origin of its name, is from Syriac kafr meaning the village or the country and from Arabic khall that means vinegar, or more generally, grape. So the words Kufr Khall stand for 'the village of grapes'...

, Balila, and Qafqafa.

Since 1981, the old city of Jerash has hosted the Jerash Festival, a three week long summer program of dance, music, and theatrical performances. The festival is frequently attended by members of the royal family of Jordan and is hailed as one of the largest cultural activities in the region.

In addition performances of the Roman Army and Chariot Experience (RACE) were started at the hippodrome in Jerash. The show runs twice daily, at 11am and at 2pm , and at 10am on Fridays, except Tuesdays. It features forty-five legionaries in full armour in a display of Roman Army drill and battle tactics, ten gladiators fighting “to the death” and several Roman chariots competing in a classical seven lap race around the ancient hippodrome.

Demographics


According to the Jordan national census of 2004, the population of Jerash City was 31,650 and was ranked as the 14th largest municipality in Jordan. The estimated population in 2010 is about 42,000. The National census of 2004 showed that the population of the province of Jerash Governorate
Jerash Governorate
Jerash is one of the governorates of Jordan; it is located north of Amman, Jordan's capital. It carrys the name of its capital and largest city, Jerash City....

 was 153,650. 78,440 (51%) of the population was urban and 75,162 was rural. Jordanian citizens made up 87.1% of the population of Jerash Governorate. The male to female ratio was 51.48 to 48.51.
Jerash Governorate
Jerash Governorate
Jerash is one of the governorates of Jordan; it is located north of Amman, Jordan's capital. It carrys the name of its capital and largest city, Jerash City....

 has the second highest density in Jordan (after Irbid Governorate
Irbid Governorate
Irbid or Irbed is one of the governorates of Jordan. It is located north of Amman, Jordan's capital. The capital of the governorate of Irbid is the city of Irbid...

).

Jerash has an ethnically diverse population, with the majority being Arabs. Circassians and Armenians also exist in a slightly larger percentage compared to other cities in Jordan. The majority of Jerash population are Muslims, however the percentage of Christians (Orthodox and Catholics) in Jerash city is also among the highest in Jordan.

Economy


Jerash economy depends largely on the tourists who visit the ancient city. It is also an agricultural city with more than 1.25 million olive trees in Jerash Governorate. However, the location of Jerash, just half an hour ride from two of the largest cities in Jordan, Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

 and Irbid
Irbid
Irbid , known in ancient times as Arabella or Arbela , is the capital and largest city of the Irbid Governorate. It also has the second largest metropolitan population in Jordan after Amman, with a population of around 660,000, and is located about 70 km north of Amman on the northern ridge of...

, contributed to slowing down its development, as investments tend to go to the larger cities.
Jerash Private University
Jerash Private University
Jerash Private University is the only university in Jerash Governorate, Jordan, located about 5 km off of Jerash city center...

 is the only university in Jerash located on the highway that connects Jerash to Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

, in the south eastern suburbs of the town.

Gallery


Jerash, From Ancient to Modern

External links