Monday, May 28, 2007

Mt Jebel Tannur

Jebel Tannur: 5/28/07

"We must have passed it."
"OK. I'll turn around, but I didn't see anything... and Ι was looking."
"It has got to be around here somewhere. Hey, look at that mountain, it looks like it is separated from all the others, unique... maybe it's that one?"

This is our conversation as we drive up and down Jordans Wadi Hesa valley searching for the elusive Jebel Tannur. Atop this mountain, if we ever find it, are the ruins of the Khirbet et-Tannur Nabatean temple. The Nabatean people were traders who flourished in southern Jordan and northern Arabia from about 500 BC to 50 BC. They traded goods and culture with the Egyptians, Greeks, and other cultures of the day, until the Romans ended things.

The Nabatean culture is important to this expedition because they worshiped mountains. Their temples, places of worship and sacrifice, were on the top of mountains. The archaeologist, Philip Hammond, comments that: “the god of the people was Dushares, 'Lord (dhu) of the Shara (Mountains)'. They had a mountain god... people of my own heart. Their major female deity was Al-Uzza, who was usually represented as a lion. Their major male deity was AlQaum, a warrior god, who was associated with the bull.

"I think i saw something! Turn around again."
"Yeah, that old rusted sign, i think i can read the word 'Tannur'."
"This is it!"

We turn off the paved road onto a gravel track skirting a small hill and head strait toward the one mountain that seemed individual in the area. When we park, we are passed by a Bedouin boy and his goats, walkiıng from his tent/house to pasture... İ cant imagine where. He looks at us like he can't imagine what we are doing there. We grab some water and start walking along the animal trails up the side of the mountain. Not really believing that we will find anything, we reach the summit and see the pillar bases and carved blocks of an ancient temple. The temple basically takes up the entire summit of this peak... we can only imagine how grand and impressive it was when it was standing. Rows of pillar bases surround a raised platform and altar. Much of the ground is flat, paved with rock squares. There are round fallen pillar pieces, carved roof blocks, and stones with engraved writing everywhere! Amazing! From the bottom you would never know this is up here!

We explore and admire for quite a while. Then head back down to the car and down the valley toward the southern coast of Jordan. Along the way we find another Nabatean ruin, Khirbet --ναμε---. Οη μαν, νος τηε αλπηαβετ ηασ βεψομε γρεεκ. ςηατ αμ ι σθπποσεδ το δο_ Ι δοντ κνος ηος το σςιτψη ιτ βαψκ!

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