The Amman Citadel’s history represents significant civilizations that stretched across continents and prospered for centuries, as one empire gave rise to the next. It also symbolizes the birth of the three great monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Settlement at the Citadel extends over 7,000 years. The site represents a passage in time with an astounding open-air museum to explore as a part of the heritage of mankind.
Though the fortification walls enclose the heart of the site, the ancient periods of occupation covered large areas. Historic structures, tombs, arches, walls and stairs have no modern borders, and therefore there is considerable archaeological potential at this site, as well as in surrounding lands, and throughout Amman.
The Amman Citadel is also the site of Jordan Archaeological Museum, which is home to a collection of these artifacts as well as objects from other Jordanian historic sites.
Temple of Hercules on the Citadel Mountain in Amman.
The Hill of the Citadel (Jabal al-Qal'a) in the middle of Amman was occupied as early as the Neolithic period, and fortified during the Bronze Age (1800 BC). The ruins on the hill today are Roman through early Islamic. The name "Amman" comes from "Rabbath Ammon," or "Great City of the Ammonites," who settled in the region some time after 1200 BC. The Bible records that King David captured the city in the early 10th century BC; Uriah the Hittite, husband of King David's paramour Bathsheba, was killed here after the king ordered him to the front line of battle.
In ancient times, Amman with its surrounding region was successively ruled by the then-superpowers of the Middle East: Assyria (8th century BC), Babylonia (6th century), the Ptolemies, the Seleucids (third century BC), Rome (1st century BC), and the Umayyads (7th century AD). Renamed "Philadelphia" after himself by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the city was incorporated into Pompey the Great's province of Syria, and later into the province of Arabia created by Trajan (106 AD). As the southernmost city of the Decapolis, Philadelphia prospered during Imperial times due to its advantageous location alongside Trajan's new trade and administrative road, the Via Nova Traiana.
When Transjordan passed into Arab rule in the 7th century AD, its Umayyad rulers restored the city's original name of Amman. Neglected under the Abbasids and abandoned by the Mamlukes, the city's fortunes did not revive until the late 19th century, under the Ottoman empire. Amman became the capital of the Emirate of Transjordan in 1921, and of the newly-created Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1947. Greater Amman (the core city plus suburbs) today remains by far the most important urban area in Jordan, containing over half of the country's population or about 3 million out of 5 million people.
The Byzantine basilica was constructed in the 5th-6th centuries AD. Its nave is flanked by two rows of columns. The photo looks eastwards from the entrance down the length of the nave, towards the partially reconstructed semicircular wall of the apse.
Umayyad MosqueCitadel, Amman, Jordan
The photo makes it clear that the axis of the vestibule is not aligned with the axis of the mosque, which nominally points in the direction of Mecca. There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why the vestibule could not have been lined up with the mosque, although I suppose there is no architectural rule that would have required it to do so.
This large cistern, located to the right of the vestibule, was the primary water supply to the governor's palace. At 5m deep and 16m in diameter, it would have held just over 1,000 cubic meters, or approximately 250,000 gallons, of water. The cistern was fed by rainwater through an inlet channel, and could be entered for maintenance by the stairs shown in the photo. A column, whose stump is standing at the bottom of the cistern, measured the water level.
Dome of the Vestibule
The interior of the dome of the Umayyad vestibule is shown here. This is a modern recreation; the original dome's interior would have been painted and plastered, giving a much different appearance.