Notes on the Geography of Jordan: Jerash
An hour's drive north of Amman--that's assuming the probably inevitable traffic congestion--Jerash is a second century Roman town.
Hadrian's Arch, built at the time of the emperor's visit in 129-130 A.D. Many buildings in Jerash have been reassembled over the last century. When Selah Merrill, the American consul in Jerusalem, visited in 1880, for example, the columns here had no capitals, and the highest point was the keystone.
The Temple of Zeus, just inside the gate and atop a knoll that commands the city's early center. The columns are modern reassemblies, stacked incorrectly.
The temple was on a 12 x 8 plan. Work on the cella continues.
This is the South Theater, which adjoins the Temple of Zeus. It was built in two phases, plainly distinguished by a lower section carved from the hill and--separated from it by the diazoma--a part built up and supported on arches. The modern town of Jerash is in the background.
A view of the stage.
From the Temple of Zeus, there's a fine view of the oval-shaped forum as well as the 800-meter-long cardo, or prime meridian that leads north to what became in the later part of the second century the city's new center. The block at the center of the oval carries a modern column; in antiquity, a statue presumably stood on it.
A close up of the Ionic colonnade around the forum. Atmosphere? Here's Consul Merrill, writing about 1880: "Walking about this ancient city by day, and especially by night, the silence, the desolation, the mystery connected with its origin, and its past, fill the mind with sensations which cannot be imparted to another." (East of the Jordan..., 1881, p. 284.)
Looking south from the cardo over the oval and up to the Temple of Zeus and, on the right, the theater.
Looking north on the cardo, with its diagonal paving on which old ruts can be distinguished.
A view back along the cardo, with the Temple of Zeus and South Theater in the background.
Looking northwesterly and across the cardo.
The four taller columns mark the entrance to the Roman city's market, the macellum.
A view from inside and looking northeasterly.
The market was built around an octagonal courtyard, with a central fountain, here at the lower-right.
The four blocks mark the intersection of the cardo, crossing from upper-left to lower-right with one of two decumani crossing it at a right angle. An archway rose above and connected the four blocks.
The view west, along a decumanus.
Farther north along the cardo is this gate to what apparently was the Temple of Dionysus. The stairs are from the 1930s.
Looking down the stairs.
Looking west from the site of the Temple of Dionysus to the ruins of the church of St. Theodore. The octagonal platform in the center was a fountain in the church's atrium.
A closer view. Water came by lead pipe laid under the courtyard.
A view east from the platform of the fountain and overlooking the site of the Temple of Dionysus, popularly called The Cathedral.
The Church of St. Theodore.
Still farther north on the cardo is the fountain of the Nymphaeum--still with holes from which water once poured.
The view from behind, where the archaeologists still have plenty to do.
Farther north on the cardo, this is the entrance to the Temple of Artemis, whose columns rise in the background.
The temple itself. This was the grand focus of Jerash in the Second Century, although it appears (from lack of any evidence of a roof) that the temple may never have been finished.
Fragments of the Temple of Artemis' outer colonnade, which enclosed an area of 160 by 120 meters.
We're north of the Temple of Artemis and overlooking the back of the North Theater. The columns behind its stage are visible, as is the cardo and a new north gate under construction.
This theater, too, was built in phases, the first excavated and the second erected.
The slope is very steep.
View of the theater from the east.
Cornice blocks awaiting reassembly. The cardo continues north between the columns; the second decumanus crosses under the archway at the right.
The intersection is clearer here; the archway or tetrakionion is modern.
A closer view.
The second decumanus heads west, with the theater on the left.
Looking south from a point north of the second intersection.
The same orientation, but from a point farther north.
Masons add a north gate to the city.
What will it look like? Presumably like this twin, already completed to add a south entrance to the site. Do additions like these cross the line from protecting a site to building a new one?
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