Established possibly as early as 312 BCE as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra was home to roughly 30,000 people and was abandoned in the year 106 CE because of reasons unknown. Petra is comprised of two sections Petra Central (the proper city) and burial tombs in and around Petra.
The facade of al-Khazneh (the Treasury) the iconic burial tomb at Petra. Its Arabic name Treasury derives from one legend that bandits or pirates hid their loot in a stone urn high on the second level. It was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt at the beginning of the 1st Century CE during the reign of Aretas IV Philopatris. According to Areta another legend is that it functioned as a treasury of the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time of Moses (Khaznet Far'oun).
The colonnade street in the city proper was located in the valley between Jabl e al-Khubtha and Jabl al-Madhbah on the eastern side and Jabl e Umm al-Biyara on the western side, runs through the center of Petra proper, with many un-excavated sites on either side. Qasr al-Bint is also visible in the background.
A white dome crowns the 13th-century shrine of prophet Haroun (Aaron) atop Jebel Haroun—the highest point in Petra. An Egyptian sultan had the monument built to commemorate the death of Aaron, Moses' elder brother, who, according to tradition, died on this spot. Other religious buildings have stood on the peak since the Byzantine era. A local legend holds that ten-year-old Mohammed visited the shrine with his uncle.
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