Cultural Memory Reinterpreted
Irit Ziffer, Edwin C.M. van den Brink, Orit Segal and Uzi Ad
Martha Sharp Joukowsky
Archaeological investigations of the Petra Great Temple by Brown University began in 1993 and continued until 2009 with the goals of documenting Nabataean culture as reflected in its architecture, artifact corpus, and subsistence patterns. Excavations have uncovered the largest architectural precinct in the legendary Nabataean capital. Ceramics, numismatics, lamps, and architectural iconography have provided benchmark dates for the first century B.C.–first century A.D. phases for the building of a distyle temple, remodeled into a grand tetrastyle edifice which is again refurbished in the later first or early second century A.D. with the insertion of a theater as its central focus. The chronological framework together with the excavations offers a view not only of the precinct itself, but also of the cultural interrelationships between Petra and other sites in Nabataea. Still unknown to many are the unique features of the Nabataean cultural canon.