Umm El Jimal

The easternmost of the major northern cities, Umm el Jimal, is located at the edge of the eastern basalt plain, along a secondary road that was close to the junction of several ancient trade routes that linked central Jordan with Syria and Iraq. Among the most interesting structures to visit are the tall barracks with their little chapel, several large churches, numerous open and roofed water cisterns, the outlines of a Roman fort and the remains of several town gates.

The History

Over the centuries, Umm el Jimal has hosted a succession of important civilizations. There is evidence that the site was occupied by nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes since prehistoric times. The first permanent settlement, however, was established by the Nabateans in the first century AD. Umm el Jimal was a trade outpost and a neighbourhood of the ancient Nabatean capital of Bostra, located a few kilometres north in today’s Syria, close to the junction of several ancient trade routes that linked central Jordan with Syria and Iraq. The inhabitants of Umm el Jimal were mainly ordinary people. The simplicity of the remains makes it easier for the visitor to imagine how everyday life was like at the time.
In 106 BC the Romans took control of the region. After the revolt led by the Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in AD 275 Umm el Jimal was converted into a Roman military base a military, however, later, with the decline of the Roman rule Umm it returned to be a small civilian town. The Byzantines ruled after the Romans, between the 5th and 6th centuries after Christ. During this period the city experienced economic growth driven by agricultural production and trade and reach a population of about 6,000 inhabitants. After the Byzantines, the Umayyads took over the region in the 7th century and repurposed some buildings into mosques. As I happened with other settlements in the region, following the decline of the Umayyad dynasty and the devastating earthquakes, Um el Jimal was gradually abandoned. The careful research work and excavation conducted by the archaeologist from the 70s to the 90s, made it possible to uncover the succession of buildings from Nabataean to today.

Umm el Jimal Highlights

Among the most interesting exhibits in Umm el Jimal, there are the ancient Roman barracks with black basalt doors and the Barack chapel. The scarcity of timber made it necessary to use black volcanic basalt rocks very common in the region to build furniture and structures. Other remarkable ruins are the Nabataean Temple, numerous churches from the Byzantine period, the cathedral, outlines of a Roman fort, and the remains of several town gates. Impressive is also the elaborate hydraulic system and the numerous open and roofed water cisterns built by the Nabateans. These structures brought water into the otherwise deserted area testifying to the advanced engineering knowledge and skills of this civilization.

Umm El Jimal

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