1. Sacred Destinations
  2. Jordan
  3. Petra
  4. The Treasury

The Treasury, Petra

Glimpse of the Treasury from the Siq. Photo © N Creatures. View all images in our The Treasury Photo Gallery.
The Treasury. Photo © moogdroog.
Side view of the Treasury and plaza. Photo © Roel Meurders.
The Treasury as it appeared in the 1830s, before the more recent influx of tourists. Note the stream in the foreground; this has since been diverted for the safety and convenience of Petra visitors.
View of the Treasury from above. Photo © Mounir Soussi Idrissi.
Upper facade of the Treasury, in shadows. Photo © Red Betty Black.
Photo © David Bjorgen.
View from inside the Treasury, across the plaza to the Siq. Photo © Sa?a Muti?.

The first sight visitors see upon emerging from the 1.5 kilometer-long Siq is the Treasury (Arabic: al-Khazneh), the most magnificent of Petra's sights. One of the most elegant remains of the ancient world, the Treasury is carved out of solid rock and stands over 40 meters high.

History

The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC. As its design has no precedent in Petra, it is thought that it was carved by Near-Eastern Hellenistic architects.

The purpose of the Treasury remains something of a mystery. One thing that is fairly certain, however, is that it was not a treasury. In reality, the Treasury is generally believed to be a temple or a royal tomb, but neither conclusion is certain.

The tomb/temple got its popular name from the Bedouin belief that pirates hid ancient pharoanic treasures in the tholos (giant stone urn) which stands in the center of the second level. In an attempt to release the treasure, Bedouins periodically fired guns at it — the bullet holes which are still clearly visible on the urn.

When the first Western visitors arrived at Petra in the 19th century, a stream ran from Siq and across the plaza. The stream has since been diverted and the plaza leveled for the sake of tourists.

What to See

The Treasury's façade has two levels, decorated with columns, classical rooflines and badly weathered sculptures. Perched atop the façade is an eagle, a Nabataean (and Greek) male deity symbol.

The central figure on the upper level tholos may be the fertility goddess of Petra, El-Uzza (associated to the Egyptian goddess Isis). The vertical footholds on either side may have been made to aid the sculptors.

The portal on the bottom level is reached by small flight of steps, and is flanked by mounted figures believed to be Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus.

Inside, a colossal doorway dominates the outer court and leads to an inner chamber of 12 square meters. At the back of the chamber is a sanctuary with an ablution basin (for ritual washing), suggesting that the Treasury was a temple or some other kind of holy place. The chamber can no longer be entered, but it is possible to look in from the doorway.

Quick Facts on the The Treasury

Site Information
Names:al-Khazneh; Treasury; Treasury, Petra
City:Petra
Country:Jordan
Categories:Temples
Faiths:Nabatean
Styles:Nabatean
Dates:1st C BC
Status:ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Petra, Jordan
Coordinates:30.322475° N, 35.451572° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the The Treasury

Below is a location map and aerial view of the The Treasury. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Petra - Official Website of the Kingdom of Jordan
  2. Petra: The Treasury Plaza - Nabataea.net
  3. The Mystery of the Treasury Monument - Nabataea.net (suggests it was a library)

More Information

Article Info

Title:The Treasury, Petra
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:08/06/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/jordan/petra-treasury
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/jordan/petra-treasury">The Treasury, Petra</a>