Monday, August 5, 2013

International Adventures: Visit to Jerash, Part 2

Leaving the Artemis complex and heading north, I looked to the east and saw the ruins of the West Baths. There are East Baths as well on the eastern bank of Wadi Jerash.

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The most complete structure, the one on the left, reminded me of the pizza oven at my brother Tom's house. It looked a bit like that when it was half built (minus the grass growing on the roof, of course).

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Directly north of the Temple of Artemis is the North Theater, Built in the 190s AD to hold about 1.600 patrons, the theater is still in use today. In 1997, Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, gave a reading to a sold out house. It was the first performance in the theater in 1500 years!

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I took that last picture standing on the stage. When I turned aroun and looked north, I could see the plaza in front of the theater which has been partially rebuilt and in the background houses in present day Jerash.

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I wandered around the plaza to the north and then took this shot looking at the plaza and the North Theater behind it.

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They had a couple of these amazing double columns. The stonework on them is fairly intricate and one of them is meant to bond into the wall of the theater. Pretty amazing architecture and engineering.

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From the theater I headed east on the North Decumanu back toward the Cardo. The North Tetrapylon, the intersection of the Cardo and the Decumanus, is the main feature of this picture.

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We're almost at the northern boundary of ancient Jerash now. This view, taken from the shade of the North Tetrapylon looks north up the Cardo to the North Gate of the city.

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Take a look at the pavement here. Those grooves and ridges were caused by years of steel shod  wheels grinding the stone down.

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The North Gate of the city is fascinating. Because the Romans wanted everything to meet up at regular 90 degree angles, their streets were laid out on a regular grid pattern. Unfortunately, the road to another of the Decapolis cities, Pella, ran off at an oblique angle to the Cardo. Their solution is subtle and ingenious; the gate is not a rectangular solid, it's a wedge. Look at the stonework on the inside of the arch toward the top of the gate and you'll see what I mean.

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I had now reached the northern limit of ancient Jerash. Nothing to do but turn around and retrace my steps. On my way south I happened upon this pomegranate tree in full fruit. I'll have to be on the lookout at the greengrocers, because they carry fruit very seasonally, not like in the US where you can get practically anything any time as long as you're willing to pay part of the air freight to get it there.

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After the Greeks and the Romans had had their influence on Jerash, the Byzantines came to power. Predominantly Christian, they worked  to remove whatever vestiges of 'pagan' worship they could. The road leading up to the monumental staircase that ascends to the Temple of Artemis was called the Sacred Way. The Byzantines built a church right on the Sacred Way, using the paving stones of the road as the floor of the church. If you turn around from this vantage point, you are looking directly up the monumental staircase.

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The church lies mostly in ruins, but the stone work must have been ezquisite. Many, if not most, of the stones for reassembling it are lying there waiting to be used. One feature I particularly liked was the carved spiral columns in some sort of rose colored stone.

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As I said, most of the pieces to the puzzle are still there. Look, I found a corner piece!

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And here's a border!

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On my way out of Jerash, I couldn't resist taking a couple more shots of the collonade around the Oval Plaze.

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So, that was my tour of Jerash on Saturday, August 3, 2013. At this point it was getting quite warm, my Hydroflask was enpty of water, though it still contained some of the ice I had put in earlier in the day, and I just wanted to get back to the pseudo-souk. I knew that they had cold water for sale and shade to sit in.

The drive back to Madaba was uneventful. I did it without the GPS and didn't take a wrong turn once. I'm feeling pretty pleased with my navigational abilities in what was once a forgien land to me.

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These are the things that interest me. If any of them are of interest to you, great. Read along


About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.