Priapus Dionysis

Amman through Time

Posted in My Cities My Life by Priapus_D on March 17, 2010

In this post I will try to talk about a mystery that puzzled me every time I began thinking about the roots and history of our beloved Amman. This curiosity entertains my mind each time I pass through its streets, for I fail to find any traces of the splendour of Islamic civilisation in this city. It seems that a thousand years of Islamic culture had passed while Amman was asleep!

I do not claim that I am an authority when it comes to matters of history, but all the cities I have visited in the middle east show clear effects of Islamic presence on their architecture, planning, traditions, and social grouping, but Amman lacks any of those signs.
A hasty search in Wikipeidia gives only two lines about what happened to Amman through the prime time of Islamic civilisation, they mention that it prospered a bit during the Ummayyad rule due to its proximity to Damascus and then after the Abbasid era, earthquakes had reduced this village into nothing buy a heap of rubble. Only in the late Ottoman era did a few Circassians settle this abandoned village in 1887 and it gained some relevance after the Ottoman began to building the Hijaz railway.
Numismatic evidence available to me does not show a single Islamic coin minted in Amman during Ummayyad and Abbasid times. But Yaqout has mentioned Amman in his Index with a relatively medium sized entry, therefore, Amman was not that much asleep during the prime time of Islamic civilisation and our ignorance of it’s Islamic history is due to our apathy and inactivity.
In fact much of the history of Amman is not known to it’s inhabitants. The story or myth of how it was created through the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters is rarely known here, while because of the Roman Amphitheatre, built by Antoninus Pius, people know that Amman has some Roman origins, still anything beside that is rarely known to the average inhabitant. Amman Hellenic history is not celebrated, though it’s name, Philadelphia, was given to it by the Greek Ptolemy II. Moreover, it was only through one of my visits to the Louvre, that I noticed a statue celebrated as one of the earliest depictions of the human figure (9,000 years old), with a card under it stating that it was discovered in Ain Ghazal, Amman, Jordan. It is truly ironic that the history of your city is celebrated by another city thousands of miles away!
I believe that if we truly love Amman, then it’s history should be more researched, preserved, and communicated, not just left to rot in rarely visited museums or held at the mercy of tomb robbers.

The Infertility of Chaos

Posted in My Cities My Life by Priapus_D on March 1, 2010

It has been around six years since the Syrians left Lebanon. Yet nothing has changed there. The filthy streets stayed filthy and full of holes. In the past they were claiming that the cause of this ugly state of affairs is the Syrian army, which did it’s  best to stop the Lebanese from organising themselves and becoming better. But, now with them out, things seems worse than before.

I stayed for less than 12 hours in Beirut, yet I counted 20 cars passing on the red light, I also observed three vehicles moving in the wrong direction through narrow one way streets. I also could not fail to notice two beggars being spat upon from the windows of luxurious German cars.

In Al-Hambra Street, I could not understand who would buy $400 imitated Italian shoes, to walk in them through these sewage flooded streets; for after the stormy night, parts of Beirut looked more like Venice.

But what really entrained me is the rich vocabulary that passers by have for the world whore. For in a 10 minute walk, to a corner grocery shop, I heard the word whore used 27 times in 27 flavours. I guess only a true poet can appreciate such a linguistic fertility.

I went there hoping to apply for the American University in Beirut, but after seeing the chaos of that city, I only pray to God to have mercy on the souls of the poor people living there.

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