The Graeco-Roman world
Jerash is known for the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the “Pompeii of the Middle East or Asia”, referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation (though Jerash was never buried by a volcano).
Jerash is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Near East. It was a city of the Decapolis. Recent excavations show that Jerash was already inhabited during the Bronze Age (3200 BC – 1200 BC). After the Roman conquest in 63 BC, Jerash and the land surrounding it were annexed by the Roman province of Syria, and later joined the Decapolis cities.
Jerash Archaeological City
In AD 90, Jerash was absorbed into the Roman province of Arabia, which included the city of Philadelphia (modern day Amman). The Romans ensured security and peace in this area, which enabled its people to devote their efforts and time to economic development and encouraged civic building activity.
In the second half of the first century AD, the city of Jerash achieved great prosperity. In AD 106, the Emperor Trajan constructed roads throughout the provinces and more trade came to Jerash. The Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash in AD 129-130.
The triumphal arch (or Arch of Hadrian) was built to celebrate his visit. A remarkable Latin inscription records a religious dedication set up by members of the imperial mounted bodyguard “wintering” there.
Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated
A close second to Petra on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan, the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years and is only about 45km north of Amman and because of its water the site has been settled at least since Neolithic times. The city's golden age came under Roman rule and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world and one of the Decapolis cities once named Gerasa. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, grand theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates. Beneath its external Graeco-Roman veneer, Jerash also preserves a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures meshed and coexisted - The Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient.