We lived in Rome. They have ruins that are the envy of the world. Jordan has bigger and better Roman ruins (not even fully excavated yet either).
Suffice to say that we are again reminded what a huge entity the Roman Empire was. Osamah leads us through with his unique blend of academic information, constant humour and a solicitous caring for our comfort and satisfaction.
We start with the entry gates and some panoramic shots to set the scale. Since the world has not discovered Jordan we are delightfully alone.
Like most Roman cities Jerash had a wonderful theatre. We've seen a lot of Roman theatres - Jerash was the best. Some amazing features - if you stand in the centre of the theatre and speak in a normal voice you can be heard everywhere. We tried it. A pox on you sound designers of the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto
More fascinating - and our photos don't illustrate this well - around the lower rim of theatre (in the shot below) are circular depressions (5 are visible between the lower left pillar and the centre stairway)
If you crouch down and whisper - yes just whisper - into the depression on the left, someone with their ear to the corresponding depression on the right (unseen in the photo) will hear you perfectly. The acoustics are amazing. Did the Romans plan this? How did archeologists discover this 2,000 years later? Osamah is a proud father as he unveils these mysteries to us
We're awed by the acoustics, but the surprises just keep coming. What is the most bizarre thing that could happen next in the middle of this theatre in the middle of a Roman ruin in the middle of the Middle East?.....why, of course, a bag piper!
Because the Jordanian army was trained by the Brits, there are Jordanian bagpipers. The Romans never planned it this way, but the performance would bring tears to the eyes of any Gael!
The theatre is next to the Arena/Hippodrome. It's started to rain. Some quick shots of the end turn, the ancient horses' stalls and a long shot of the Roman Legionnaire actors who perform in the re-enactment which was canceled for rain. Behind the Legionnaires are the chariots for the chariot races......didn't see them due to rain - rats.
Jerash is huge and only partially excavated. The mound we're climbing up probably contains more ruins
There is a lovely temple which prompted wonderment about how it must have looked in its prime. And of course a favourite thing, ladies who explore ruins in high heels....and this one was a Brit, not a Russian....and of course the ubiquitous tea/coffee vendor with his lovely urns
Then Osamah showed us something that still has us wondering. Are we victims of a Uri Geller scam? The deal is that some of the pillars (supposedly) rock in the wind. To show this - one jams a spoon into the crack at the base of the pillar (Uri Geller - spoons - you appreciated our skepticism). You watch closely. The spoon slowly waves up and down. Osamah is 9 feet away.
It seems unbelievable that these monstrous columns are actually rocking in the wind. He does it again at another pillar with a set of keys. Corroded spoons, twigs, nails are stuck in pillars everywhere. If it is a scam it is widespread. If it's real, it is amazing. We're skeptical bu tending to the real side. Osamah is, of course, delighted with our confusion.
Dickie is fascinated by the capitals of the columns - lots of pics follow
An early Christian church erected in Jerash after the Empire adopted Christianity has some wonderful mosaics. The Jordanian government's dilemma is highlighted - remove the mosaics to the protection of a museum or leave them where they are and accept the attack of the elements? Or build a protective dome over the whole installation? No easy answers
And in closing some miscellaneous photos and our recommendation to put Jerash on your list of must sees.....and take Osamah!
Osamah and Bashar then ake us to lunch - a non descript cafe at the entry of Jerash delivers a wonderful lunch. Cold beer is obtained. We're still puzzling about the rocking pillars. It's been a wonderful experience and the food is perfect
A note on "Osamah"
Live in the west and the name Osamah carries all the baggage of "Hitler"....and remember he's Christian.
He is wonderfully honest about the dilemma. As he describes it - he tells American tourists his name is Sam - an Anglicization of a complex Arabic name. The one time he admitted to his actual name on the last day of a tour they didn't give him a tip. We get used to it quickly and by day two are talking about "Osamah" as if he was our best friend......which he was fast becoming.