Ancient Petra is traditionally biblical Sela, capital of Edom. According to legend, it was here that Moses struck the rock and drew water (Exodus 17). The Nabateans made it their capital city in the sixth century B.C. and carved the magnificent structures we see today into the rose-red colored rock. These were used as burial places and for other ritual purposes. The Nabateans were a semi-nomadic people and did not build permanent homes, so no houses or other remains survive. From Petra, the Nabateans controlled their lucrative trade routes and enjoyed centuries of prosperity. At first, they coexisted with the Roman Empire, however in 106 A.D the Romans took over their city. Petra was cut off from the West for over 1,000 years: the Bedouin who lived here guarded their secret place jealously, refusing entry to outsiders. In 1812, a young Swiss explorer, Burckhardt, disguised himself as a Muslim and entered Petra, telling his suspicious guide that he had vowed to sacrifice a goat at Jebel Haroun (Mt. Aaron, where the Bedouin believe that Moses' brother died and is buried). After Burckhardt's accounts of Petra were published, the ancient city opened to foreign travelers.
Mt. Nebo & Madaba
It was on Mt. Nebo that Moses stood and gazed over the Promised Land that he was not allowed to enter (Deuteronomy 34) after leading his people through the desert for forty years. Located 800 meters above sea-level, Mt. Nebo commands a breathtaking view and on a clear day, the Judean hills, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem are visible. In the sixth century, a basilica was built here and numerous beautiful mosaics have been uncovered. In biblical times, many battles were fought over nearby Madaba. Spectacular mosaics and fragments from the early Christian period have been excavated. In 1898, the sixth century map of Palestine that made Madaba famous was discovered. Comprised of 2-3 million tiles, it depicts the Holy Land, naming 150 sites.