Built before the pyramids, Beidha gives visitors a glimpse into human development

A reconstruction of Beihda’s round stone cottages, which marks a turning point in human history. (Photo: Shutterstock)
A reconstruction of Beihda’s round stone cottages, which marks a turning point in human history. (Photo: Shutterstock)
AMMAN — Near Petra, sits a lesser-known site called Beidha that archeologists think was inhabited and abandoned thousands of years before the first pyramid was built in Egypt.اضافة اعلان

Beidha, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, translates to “white,” and is located 10km north of Petra.

This site is mostly visited by guests who prefer entering Petra through the so-called “Petra back trail,” which starts at Little Petra, ends at the Monastery, and passes though Beidha.

The entrance to the site starts at a short trail with stones that act as a timeline, beginning with World War II and marking other historical milestones, including the building of Egypt’s oldest pyramid. The last stone on the trail reads: “This site was abandoned.”

Beidha was inhabited and abandoned three times; the first settlement was built during the Natufian era (during the 11th millennia BC), the second during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (8800BC), and the third during the Nabataean period (during the first century AD).

During excavations conducted in the 1950s, hearths were found at the site and were dated to the 11th millennia BC. The fire places were used by hunters for cooking what they caught or collected.

Archaeologists have found no permanent buildings, burials, or storages, which has led to them believe that during this period, Beidha was a seasonal camping area.

During the next era (the Pre-Pottery Neolithic), Jordan was one of the first regions in the world at the time, whose people were farmers, so they settled in villages that became more and more developed over the years, outpacing other contemporary villages.

Beidha became one of the earliest agricultural villages in the region, marking the transition from hunter-gatherer to settled farmer.

At the site, visitors can see a group of round stone cottages that probably had wooden roofs. The round shape did not allow for the addition of more rooms.

In addition to the houses, archaeologists have found the remains of a wall and a public structure (possibly a temple).
The wall and possible temple are a feature of a new type of lifestyle, characterized by the emergence of leadership that controls and decides on public and private matters.

Agriculture and other economic activities eventually led to the emergence of individual ownership, which resulted in conflicts between people, such as the struggle over water resources and fertile land.

During the Nabataean era, the site was surrounded by several structures such as agricultural terraces and aqueducts, but Beidha was one of Petra’s suburbs and not a true settlement on its own.

Beidha’s unique history stretches back millennia, which makes it the perfect place to get a glimpse how the way we live and interact with both people and nature has changed throughout history.  

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