|Summary of Past Excavations|
As one of the most spectacular sites in the Middle East, Petra has long attracted travelers and explorers. During the 19th century, the site was visited and documented by several Europeans, after J. L. Burckhardt's initial visit. A synthesis of Petra was published by Libbey and Hoskins in 1905, presenting one of the first overviews in print. Archaeological excavations began in earnest at the turn of the century, with the earliest scientific expedition being published in Arabia Petraea in 1907, by A. Musil. In the 1920's R. E. Brunnow and A. von Domaszewski surveyed the site and published an ambitious mapping project in their Die Provincia Arabia. This survey has since undergone many necessary revisions, the most recent of which was published by Judith McKenzie in 1990.
Modern excavations continue to increase our understanding of the site and correct the work of earlier scholars. In 1958, P. J. Parr and C. M. Bennett of the British School of Archaeology began an excavation of the city center which remains the most informative and scientific to date. Recently, the Petra/Jerash Project, undertaken by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, the University of Jordan, the University of Utah, and Swiss archaeologists, have excavated a number of monuments at these two sites. Architectural remains now visible at Petra indicate a thriving city, however, despite almost 100 years of excavation, only one-percent of the city been investigated.
The Great Temple was first explored by Brünnow and von Domaszewski, but it was Bachmann, in his revision of the Petra city plan, who postulated the existence of a 'Great Temple', aligned with the Colonnade Street, lying on the hillside to the south. He speculated that the temple was approached through a monumental Propylaeum with a grand staircase leading into a colonnaded, terraced Lower Temenos, or sacred precinct. Another broad monumental stairway led to a second, Upper Temenos. At its center was the temple, with yet another flight of stairs leading into the temple proper. While no standing structures were revealed before your excavations, the site is littered with architectural fragments, including column drums, probably toppled by one of the earthquakes which rocked the site. Given the promise of the Great Temple precinct and its importance in understanding Petra's architectural and intercultural history, it is remarkable that it remained unexcavated until 1993 when the Brown University investigations began.
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