How the Project began
During the early 1990's the
American Center for Oriental Research (ACOR)
conducted excavations in a basilica church found at
the center of Petra. The church dated from the 6th
century and was decorated with beautiful floor
mosaics with human and animal figures. This was
surprising since previously it had bee assumed that
the life at the city had declined after the
devastating earthquake of the year 363 A.D. and was
totally abandoned by another quake in 551A.D.
Another surprise was to find a
charred papyrus archive in a room next to the
basilica hall. A Finnish conservation team was
invited ensure the salvation of the scrolls to a
readable form. Records dating from 513 to 592 A.D.
revealed a city full of life. The above mentioned
earthquakes were not to blame for the fate of Petra.
The documents told also about the
environment of the urban center, the agriculture and
public buildings. In a will, Obodianos, fallen ill,
promises to leave half of his property to the
monastery of High Priest, the other half the a
hospital in Petra.
This detail in the will confirmed
an old belief. There used to be a monastery related
to the tomb church of Aaron, at least in the 6th
century. On the mountain plateau of Jabal Haroun, at
the altitude of 1250 meters, there is an unexcavated
ruin covering 3000 sq meters, obviously a monastery.
After the conservation and documentation of the
charred papyri and with the permission from the
Jordanian authorities, it is time to take a closer
look at the interesting building complex.