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Karak, al-

KARAK, AL-

A provincial capital in the central part of Jordan.



During the Bronze Age, starting about 2400 b.c.e., the region surrounding Karak supported sedentary agriculturalists. Semitic tribes settled there in 1200 b.c.e. and, in 850 b.c.e., the great King Mesha consolidated what came to be known as the Moabite kingdom. Then, atop a small mountain, Karak was settled and fortified. Nearby on the plains of Muʾta, the first battle between the Arab Muslims and the Byzantine Empire was fought in 629 c.e. The Crusader Renauld de Châtillon ruled the broad region east of the Jordan rift from the massive fortress he built at Karak.


After World War I, Karak was a southern province of the short-lived Syrian Kingdom. Following its demise at the hands of the French in July 1920, the local tribal shaykhs declared the Karak region to be the independent Arab Government of Moab, led by Rufayfan al-Majali. In 1921, it became part of the Emirate of Transjordan. In 2003, Karak is an agricultural market town of 23,200 people and the government center for the Karak district of Jordan. The majority are Sunni Muslim, but a significant minority are Christian. One of Jordan's institutions of higher education, the University of Muʾta, is located nearby in the village of that name.

see also majali family.

Bibliography


Gubser, Peter. Politics and Change in al-Karak, Jordan: A Study of a Small Arab Town and its District. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

peter gubser
updated by michael r. fischbach

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