The Petra Church

the_petra_church1Excavation of the Petra Church site was more than just an excavation, it was a complete project that included the excavation, publication, conservation, and presentation of the site.  This beautiful book, published in 2001, was a milestone of the work of ACOR in the Petra Park that continues until today.

(Read “The Petra Church Revisited” in ACOR Newsletter Vol. 23.2 – Winter 2011 to learn more about recent and ongoing preservation efforts at this site.)

This hardcover volume offers a wealth of detail and scholarship about not only the excavations but also the historical environment of the communities living in the Petra area.  The contents of the book touch on the ecclesiastical history of Petra and of this specific church, the architecture, marble furnishings and mosaics of the church, and great details concerning the myriad of finds unearthed in the excavations, such as storage jars, lamps, coins and figurines.

Excavations began in 1991, soon revealing important mosaics in the two aisles of the Petra Church.  In order to preserve the mosaics after excavation, a competition was held to solicit architectural designs for a permanent shelter over the archaeological site.  After much discussion and debate, a shelter designed by American architect Rob Shutler was chosen and funding for its construction was secured from USAID.  The shelter was completed in 1997.

It is notable that the ACOR archaeology team in 1993 discovered a treasure of carbonized papyrus scrolls that ultimately revealed a fascinating insight into the society in late Byzantine Petra between the 4th and 6th centuries, A.D.  The full contents of the Petra Papyri are revealed in the book series The Petra Papyri I-IV, also published by ACOR.