In the movie The Last Crusade Indiana Jones is after the Holy Grail, and what better place to hide it than in an ornately carved sandstone temple façade which dates back to the first century AD in Jordan? The Al Khazneh, in Petra, Jordan is a real-life place known as "The Treasury." Just like Indiana Jones, Thomas Berube and his nephew visited this tourist attraction in Petra, Jordan getting in touch with their inner Indiana Jones. Thomas shared photos and stories of his trip with the Chicago Cycling Club at its Feb. 12 meeting.
A visit to Jordan has been on Thomas’ bucket list since his days in college in the '80s and he found his teenage nephew shared his interest in archaeology so with parental approval they set off for a week during a school break in Nov. 2019.
They began their trip in Amman, the capital of Jordan, which they found modern and cosmopolitan and then passed through Madaba before traveling through the desert to Petra. Petra is a vast archaeological park today built around the time of the Roman empire. Their prosperity was the result of being located on lucrative trade routes. They were excellent engineers and farmers and learned to develop water channels and dams using the red rock in the canyons thus conquering the desert in which they lived. The elaborate facades carved in the rock are actually tombs and there is also a well preserved Roman theater. Outside of Amman they had an opportunity to tour many castles that were built by the crusaders.
Thomas reported that the temperature was mild, accommodations were comfortable (including a night of luxury camping in a tent in the desert), and the food was freshly prepared and tasty. Concerns about safety in the region today has affected tourism so those who make the journey can experience the amazing artifacts and history without the crowds. After all, according to Indiana Jones, “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out of the library!”
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