The ancient and new history of Wadi Rum
As you may know, Wadi Rum is a protected area in Jordan. This is for good reasoning, as it is sacred to many different groups of people. These people are not just the Bedouins...they are also filmmakers, spice traders and even scientists. Here is a brief history of the magical Wadi Rum desert.
The Early Days
Wadi Rum has had human inhabitants for thousands of years, dating back to the earliest record of inscriptions around 6 BCE. These people were the Thamudic people and developed a system of very unique inscriptions. Their inscriptions were only discovered in the early 1900s by westerners and are a relative of Ancient Northern Arabian. These inscriptions can be found throughout Wadi Rum's rock and tell a tale of how our ancient ancestors lived. They were nomadic as many people in there time were. The main occupation at this time was herding and casual trading of spices. This created a base for the culture of the Bedouins. But one other key tribe is responsible for the culture of the Middle East as a whole and they were the Nabateans.
The Nabateans (400 BCE - 100 AD)
The Nabateans created one of the first governments and societies in a nomadic Jordan. They loosely based their power on the spice trading routes through the desert. The civilization was first centered on an unknown mountain top in northern Jordan but then began to build their capital city, Petra. As they were desert dwellers, they were very successful in both defending their land and ensuring that enemies did not have an advantage to over take them. However, unfortunately, the mighty Nabateans fell to the Romans around 100 AD. What remains of them today can be found in hidden cisterns within the desert mountains, their own minted coins and, of course of the 7 Wonders of the World, Petra.
They are a lost civilization shrouded in mystery, but there is no doubt that they were a key contributor to the Arab history.
Lawrence of Arabia (1916-1962)
During the time period between the Nabataens and the 1900s, the ruler of modern day Jordan and Wadi Rum changed hands quite a bit. In the early 1900s the Ottoman Empire was the ruler of Arabia. During the First World War, the British decided to break up the Ottomans Empire and the man who contributed to this rebellion's cause the most was a man name T E Lawrence. Not only was this British soldier instrumental in rallying the Arab Revolt. However, his skills as a writer were just as good as his fighting skills, so with his new post-war career he wrote about the vastness and magic of Wadi Rum. One of the peaks in Wadi Rum is actually named after one of his books, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. This brought international recognition to the area of Wadi Rum and Jordan as a whole.
The film, Lawrence of Arabia, in 1962 sparked another big movement to visit Wadi Rum for film-making as well as its cultural and historical significance.
Wadi Rum became a protected area in 1998 because of its culture and impressive landscapes. Today it is visited by many to explore how people of any age live in such a harsh, beautiful environment and the history within that. Wadi Rum also has been featured in many modern movie franchises such as Star Wars, DUNE, Disney's Aladdin and many more.
Furthermore, the site has also been famous for archeology of Nabatean temples. Fossils can still be seen in the walls of the many rock formations.
But most importantly, this area is still authentic. It is still the same beautiful desert area spice traders and camel herders of the past became captivated with.
Wadi Rum's history is still in the making, and we hope you can be a part of it.