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.


2 Responses

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  1. abdulah said, on July 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    a very nice post i must say.
    but i would love to point out several islamic architectural monuments that still stand in jordan such as the dessert castles ( amra & al hkarana ) also the castle of salah al deen. and many many more
    but yes i agree that amman lake any designs from the islamic era
    but dont you think that the people of jordan are very islamic oriented .
    a little to much i believe. and since i mentioned that i must quote Flavius Josephus (37 AD – 100 AD) ” Everyone ought to worship God according to his own inclinations, and not to be constrained by force.”

  2. priapusdionysis said, on July 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Surprisingly, I had just finished from planning a trip that will take me to those desert castles. I was able to find 12 sites, but I was astonished to find out that there are no roads connecting three of them!
    With regard to Qasr Al-Harraneh, it really amuses me how we use a pronunciation with a very clear Swiss accent to write it’s plain Arabic name!
    I do agree with you and Mr. Flavius on the matter that every one is entitled to his beliefs and even disbeliefs, and I go along the notion that Jordanians are a very conservative community, but I also feel that they are also very closed and their conservatism is only superfluous and hypocritical, like a thin curtain behind which they hide all their flaws.

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