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Jordanian town and archaeological site.

Lying 29 miles (47 km) north of Jordan's capital city, Amman, the ruins at Jarash are some of the most famous in the Middle East and, along with Petra, one of Jordan's two main tourist attractions.

Founded as part of Alexander the Great's empire (c. 334 b.c.e.), Jarash became a thriving Roman provincial city during the first to third centuries c.e. It was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis, a commercial federation in Roman Syria. After its decline from shifting trade routes, Jarash lay in ruins until about 1884, when the Ottoman Empire introduced Circassians (Muslims from the Caucasus mountains fleeing Russian rule) as settlers. The town later grew to incorporate Arabs as well. By 1994, the population stood at 21,300; 2002 estimates put it at 26,300.

The first European to report on Jarash's Roman ruins was the German Ulrich J. Seetzen in 1806. Serious restoration and archaeological work were undertaken by the Transjordanian government in the 1920s on the city's amphitheater, forum, colonnaded road, temples, churches, and other buildings. The ruins now offer one of the best examples of provincial architecture from the Roman Empire, and serve as the backdrop for Jordan's most celebrated cultural event, the internationally known Jarash Festival for music and dance.


Harding, G. Lankester. The Antiquities of Jordan, 2d edition. London: Lutterworth, 1959.

Showker, Kay. Fodor's Jordan and the Holy Land. New York: McKay, 1989.

michael r. fischbach

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