History of Jordan: Before World War I

History of Jordan: Before World War I Last updated on Tuesday 20th April 2010

The Kingdom of Jordan is steeped in history and had been a major site for civilization since the Paleolithic Period. Archaeological evidence is constantly bringing to light signs of habitation from the dawn of history to the present day.

In 331BC, the armies of Alexander the Great conquered the Near East, introducing Hellenic culture to the area. On Alexander's death in 323BC, the Greek Empire was divided between his two generals. Jordan, Palestine and Egypt were given to General Ptolemy.

Between 400BC and 160AD, the Nabataean civilization flourished in the southern part of the Kingdom. The awe-inspiring Nabataean capital of Petra is now Jordan's most popular tourist attraction.

Jordan was part of the Roman Empire between 63 and 324AD. A league of ten cities, known as the Decapolis, was established at that time to facilitate the area's trade and commerce. Four cities in Jordan, Jeresh, Philadelphia (now Amman), Umm Qais and Pella formed part of the Decapolis.

The Byzantine period, 324 to 632AD, saw the inhabitants of Jordan providing crops and livestock from their farmlands to sustain travelers on the caravan routes, which linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria and the Mediterranean.

The year 630AD marked the beginning of the Arab-Islamic era. The area was ruled for two centuries by the Ummayyad and Abbasid dynasties of Baghdad and Damascus.

In 1099, the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, establishing themselves by building two castles in Jordan at Shobak and Kerek, to protect their conquests. In 1187, Salah al Din (known as Saladin) defeated the Crusaders at Kerek, forcing them to completely withdraw from the Near East.

A 300-year rule by the Mamelukes followed, after which Jordan became part of the Ottoman Empire. This period came to an end with the famous Arab Revolt, between 1915 and 1918.

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