Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World News in Audio


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Wednesday, April 1, 1998 Published at 06:15 GMT 07:15 UK



World: Middle East

Petra 'saved' by artificial stone
image: [ The Treasury at Petra was carved from sandstone 2,000 years ago ]
The Treasury at Petra was carved from sandstone 2,000 years ago

The ancient city of Petra in Jordan, one of the world's most spectacular archaeological sites, could be saved from destruction by an artificial rock.


[ image: Most of the Treasury is still in excellent condition]
Most of the Treasury is still in excellent condition
A narrow gorge, one mile long (1.6 km) and 200 feet high (60 metres) is the only way into the Unesco World Heritage Site.

But the thousands of people who visit Petra, south of the Jordanian capital of Amman, are finding the city in increasingly poor condition.

Petra was carved from solid rock 2,000 years ago by the Navateans. But erosion and neglect have left just 100 of its 3,000 tombs and monuments still in reasonable condition.


[ image: The craftsmanship is exquisite]
The craftsmanship is exquisite
The best known is the Treasury - the facade was used in the film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' - but many of the rest have been stripped of their ornate carvings by the effect of wind-blown sand.

Now Jordanian and German engineers have developed an artificial sandstone which they hope will protect the red sandstone facades against further weathering.


[ image: Wind and sand has stripped much of the site of its ornate carvings]
Wind and sand has stripped much of the site of its ornate carvings
"It was a big relief because in the beginning we thought there was no solution," said May Shaer, a conservation expert.

"I cannot say it is a perfect solution. It cannot stop the weathering, which is natural, but it was a really big relief," she said.


[ image: Artificial sandstone fills the cracks in the original]
Artificial sandstone fills the cracks in the original
Local Bedouin workers, who have been trained on site, are now beginning the laborious task of filling in the cracks to try to protect the site for the next 2,000 years.

It will be a lengthy task. The scientists hope to be able to treat another 10 sites at Petra, but it will take them 10 years.






Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


Link to BBC Homepage

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Internet Links

A guide to Petra

Unesco's World Heritage List

Unesco: Petra


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.