A side trip, ten miles from Petra, through more stunning country to a mini-Nabatean site. Baida is often called "Little Petra" because of its similar geology and evidence of human occupation. From here, one descends to Wadi Araba, part of the Rift Valley. Like Petra itself, it's a canyon ― you would not want to be caught here when rain causes flash floods ― lined with tombs and grottoes in the cliffs. The ancient Nabatean cisterns are still in use, collecting winter rain for local needs. Intriguing staircases once led to dwellings.
|Photo without benefit of sunlight somewhat enhanced|
This is land of the Bedouin, the Bdool tribe. It has been suggested, due to their being unrelated to other nearby tribes, that they are descendants of the original Nabatean inhabitants. In the village of Um Sayhoun they were given homes and government resources along with perpetual use of the surroundings in exchange for abandoning their seasonal cave dwellings in Petra. But their traditional tents and goats continue to dot the landscape. Children were excited to greet some unexpected visitors.
A woman was weaving while someone quickly thought to display local jewellery to tempt us.
Probably the most awesome site here is the partially excavated Neolithic village. Dated to 7,000-6500 BC, it has been called the oldest known site where human beings were agriculturally active. "Some of the archaeological finds date to the 9th and 10th millennia BC."
The village was rebuilt over hundreds, thousands, of years. In the oldest section, house foundations were partially dug into the ground and would have had some shelter overhead. An ancient winepress speaks to their cultivation ― Nabatean wine has been found in tombs in Egypt. The climate was more salubrious and the land more fertile 9000 years ago!
Contemplating this manifestation of (Jordan's segment of) the Great Rift Valley was breathtaking ― absorbing the visuals, feeling the textures, hearing the kids' chatter, breathing the air. Moments out of time.
With the assistance of "Petra and Nearby Baida," Ruth's Jordan Jubilee (http://www.jordanjubilee.com/visitjor/petra4.htm : accessed 14 November 2016).
 Site plaque: seventh photo.
Photos: BDM, 2007
© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman