The Pride of the Jordanians: Petra

The year 1812 saw a milestone event in the history of Near Eastern travel. After centuries of having been lost to the outside world, the ancient Nabataean city of Petra was rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt – found in modern-day Jordan. Thus began an era of global fascination with what English poet John William Burgon memorably described as “a rose-red city half as old as time.”

Newbould 2

The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia: After Lithographs by Louis Haghe from Drawings Made on the Spot by David Roberts by George Croly, David Robert III, and William Brockedon, NC1115.R56 Williams Oversize, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Most of this attention would be focused on the imposing and beautiful temple of Al-Khazneh. This central edifice is pictured in British artist David Roberts’ illustrations, found in the third volume of the Roberts’ Holy Land series of travel books (1855). As conveyed by Roberts, Petra was an exotic object of wonder for the Victorians.

Modern times have seen Petra’s transformation into an essential “national” monument. Beginning in the late 20th century, under the guidance of King Hussein ben Talal, the Jordanian government initiated huge investments in the promotion of Petra as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tourist attraction, and filming location for the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In a country where tourism accounts for a significant portion of the economy, Petra has become “undoubtedly Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction,” according to the government. As such, Al-Khazneh stands a monument to national identity for the Jordanians just as strongly as it once stood a mausoleum for the Nabataeans.

Newbould

The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia: After Lithographs by Louis Haghe from Drawings Made on the Spot by David Roberts by George Croly, David Roberts III, and William Brockedon, NC1115.R56 Williams Oversize, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Works Consulted:

George Croly, David Roberts III, and William Brockedon. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia: After Lithographs by Louis Haghe from Drawings Made on the Spot by David Roberts, R.A. London: Day & Son, 1855.

  • Arthur Newbould BC 2016, Fall 2015 Making History Public Student

The images and content in this blog post are from the exhibit Historical Monuments, Monumental Histories, which is now on display in the History Department, Stokes 3rd Floor South.    This exhibit was curated and organized by Professor Dana Sajdi’s Fall 2015 Making History Public class, in collaboration with the Boston College University Libraries.

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
This entry was posted in Exhibits & Events, HS600 Posts, Rare books, Student Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s