There are over 500 tombs just waiting to be explored on your visit to Petra, the oldest of which date to the 3rd century B.C.! The caves are completely open and accessible as long as you watch your footing – no guard rails are in sight.
These “loculi” were used to stack the dead, sometimes as much as 10-15 deep. As in many other cultures, the wealth and social status of the deceased was reflected in their tombs. This cave tomb is one of the simple ones without a carved facade. The tombs are all empty now, have been robbed of contents in years’ past.
And who exactly were the Nabateans? Originally consisting of nomadic tribes from the Arabian peninsula, the Nabateans settled in what is now Southern Jordan around the 6th century B.C. Adept and organized at trading, their profits from the caravan trade routes helped them establish a powerful kingdom that reached north as far as Damascus and included parts of the Negev and Sinai deserts. In 106 A.D., the Nabatean kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire. Interestingly, the decline of Petra and it’s wealth came about due to not just new trading routes that had developed through the Red Sea, but because of the decrease in the use of frankincense as Christianity took over in the region, replacing pagan religions.