Fabled City: Journey to Jerash

Amman- I’ve finished my fourth and final episode in my Jordan series by ambling around the barely ruined ruins of Jerash in the eponymous governorate north of Amman. I’d wanted to visit this site for decades and finally just made it happen. Roman Jerash, or ancient Gerasa, is oft overshadowed by the Nabatean sandstone maze of Petra in Jordan’s desert south. And understandably so, Jerash was never featured in one of the most beloved adventure films of all time.

The towering sandstone columns of the temple of Artemis, the Roman Diana, bathe in the spring light as they have for nearly two millennia. ©2023 Derek Henry Flood

The moment I set foot on the site I was in an archaeological paradise. It is bigger than one can possibly conceive of especially if you are accustomed to seeing Roman ruins dotted throughout a bustling urban landscape as here in Amman or in Rome itself. Much of what was pillaged during Byzantium stayed onsite as churches and chapels were simply built atop Roman temples and oracles. The physical representations of Roman polytheistic architecture were morphed into Byzantine monotheism. History at Jerash is therefore stacked upon itself.

Also fun fact: WordPress doesn’t seem to recognise ‘Jerash’ as it gets a red squiggle under it when typing whilst Petra does not. So the internet certainly isn’t as familiar with the former the in the manner it is the latter. But I kind of like that. It’s slightly more atlas obscura.

The decamanus, an abandoned Roman road lined with Corinthian columns nearly as far as the eye can see. The tour groups and touts are all along the cardo, which is the main street at the intersection ahead, but I was the only one here. ©2023 Derek Henry Flood