Petra, Jordan Region

This spaceborne radar image is being used by archaeologists to study geographical factors that influenced the cultural developments of Petra, Jordan. For the past 10,000 years, the Petra region has been the site of some of the most important cultural developments in the history of humankind. Early agriculture and metallurgy were practiced here, and links were forged in a trading network that stretched from East Asia to Europe. These events are remembered in sacred stories, and today the region is a part of what adherents to the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian religions consider their homeland. Limestone highlands, the purple area in the lower right, were forested areas before the trees were cut down. The center area (green and orange) is a region of canyon-cut sandstone steppes. Important sources of water originate in the bright band that forms the boundary between these two geological regions. These springs were used by human settlements established in the canyon area, including the one of the earliest agricultural villages in the world, Beidha, as well as, the Nabataean caravan trading city of Petra, Roman fortifications, and Crusader castles. The dark region in the upper left is Wadi Araba, the geographic extension of the Great Rift Valley in east Africa. It marks the boundary between the modern states of Jordan and Israel and has been used as a corridor for traveling human populations, including our pre-Homo Sapiens ancestors, for many millennia. This image was acquired by Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR- C/X-SAR) onboard the space shuttle Endeavour on April 9, 1994. The colors are assigned to different radar frequencies and polarizations: red is L-band, horizontally transmitted and received (LHH); green is L-band, horizontally transmitted and vertically received (LHV); and blue is C-band HV. SIR-C/X-SAR, a joint mission of the German, Italian and United States space agencies, is part of NASAs Earth Science Enterprise.
Source: NASA JPL

Petra, Jordan

This spaceborne radar image shows archeological sites, the environment that gave rise to them, and modern developments that threaten them in the region around Petra, Jordan, a World Heritage Site. The bright line across the center of the image (running right to left or north to south) is a geological boundary between the limestone highlands (purple area) of Jebal Shara (the biblical Mount Sier) and deeply eroded sandstone steppes (green and orange area). For thousands of years, springs that occur along this boundary have provided water to the occupants of what are now some of the worlds most significant archeological sites. The bluish green area above the line, near the center of the image, marks the core area of the ancient caravan trading city of Petra, constructed in the sandstone canyons by the Nabataeans. Near the beginning of the Christian Era, this area controlled the spice and incense trade through the Arabian Peninsula for hundreds of years. The modern town of Wadi Musa is the bright orange and blue area below the bright line. In the past 20 years this town has grown as increased tourism made Petra Jordans most popular attraction. Hotels, restaurants, houses, and introduced vegetation (shown here in green and yellow) have arrived and threaten archeological sites and resources in this area. This image was acquired by Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) onboard the space shuttle Endeavour on April 9, 1994. The colors are assigned to different radar frequencies and polarizations red is L-band, horizontally transmitted and received (LHH); green is L-band, horizontally transmitted and vertically received (LHV); and blue is C-band HV. SIR-C/X-SAR, a joint mission of the German, Italian and United States space agencies, is part of NASAs Earth Science Enterprise.
Source: NASA JPL