Archaeologists Discover Key To An Ancient City’s Wealth

archaeologists, Petra, Jordan
A couple of months ago we reported on how archaeologists discovered how the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria thrived in the desert. A complex system of canals and cisterns trapped the sparse but regular rainfall.

Residents of another ancient city, Petra in Jordan, appear to have taken advantage of desert water to support their civilization too. Jordanian and Dutch archaeologists have discovered that an area 15 kilometers east of the city used to be a large oasis. The ancients tapped into it with an extensive network of aqueducts, reservoirs and underground canals cut out of the rock to water their fields.

Petra, capital of the Nabatean Kingdom, was a major trading center in the deserts of what is now Jordan and grew rich off of trading luxury items such as frankincense and myrrh.

The Udhruh Archaeological Project, named after the site, has found evidence that the irrigation system dates back at least 2,000 years. The area was in use for several centuries and the team has also found what may be the best-preserved Roman fort in the world. You can take a virtual tour of that fort here. The tour will show you not only the fort, but also a Byzantine church and a satellite view of the entire site.

[Photo of Petra courtesy Chris Yunker]

Photo Of The Day: This Must Be The Place


White Sands National Monument
is one of America’s most stunning natural landmarks. With 275 miles of white sand dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see, White Sands is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, extending across the Tularosa Basin by the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Like any proper desert, it also contains oases, albeit more modern than those that we imagine in the Sahara. These picnic tables were captured by Flickr user il lele, who added a witty one-liner to emphasize the isolation of the set-up. It’s certainly one place I’d like to go.

Do you have any great natural wonder photography? Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.

Photo of the Day (7.15.10)

At first glance, this image could be a skyline of a mysterious desert oasis, but it’s actually a Cirque du Soleil circus tent in New York City taken by Flickr user Gus_NYC. As a child, I used to clamor to be taken to the circus, finding the acrobats, dancing animals, and even clowns fascinating and a little magical. At some point, the circus became boring and then a little weird, though I still bitterly regret not going to the Moscow Cats circus when it was in New York.

Seen an interesting circus act in your travels? Upload a photo to our Gadling Flickr pool and we might it to feature as our Photo of the Day.