Al Beida (Little Petra)
- The Neolithic village of Beidha
It is thought to have been occupied from 7200BC to 6500BC, which makes it one of the first settled villages in human history. Around that time the settlement burned down, and was rebuild. After its reconstruction, it was only inhabited for a short while, before being totally abandonned. Remains of the houses and a retaining wall are still visible today. They are remnants of one of the first transitions from semi-settled nomads to settled villagers and the start of an agrarian economy. At the Beidha Neolithic site, you can view scientific reconstructions of what the Neolithic dwellings may have looked like.
Excavated in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Diane Kirkbride and is located within the protected area of the Petra Archaeological Park. This site, holds one of the oldest settlements in Jordan. During this period hunters and gatherers lived seasonally in this fertile and sheltered area. During the Neolithic period, between 8,330 and 7,000 B.C., a permanent village of farmers occupied Beidha and began the practice of agricultural and herding of domesticated goats and sheep. Many of the concepts and practices that we use today in agrarian societies started in small settlements such as these. The settlers lived in round houses that although easy to construct, had a serious drawback - it was difficult to add a room to a round structure and a struggle for a solution is visible.
- Siq Al Barid
A ten-minutes drive north of Petra is Siq Al-Barid, which is also referred to as 'Little Petra' due to similarities with the main site. It is thought to have been an important suburb of Petra and is entered through a narrow opening, similar to Siq but of a much smaller scale. The site includes tombs, temples, water channels and cisterns carved out of the rock as well as the remains of frescoes on plaster.
This is one of the most important features of Beida and is where many religious activities were held, including the Feast of Drink, when the king of the Nabataeans hosted celebrations and provided drinks for his guests. There is also a cave with the remains of a fresco painted by the Nabataeans that represented grape vines, which confirmed the view that Beida was the area of wine production. In the Siq Al Barid the Nabataean irrigation system, which distributed water through long channels, reservoirs carved into the rock, and dams, is evidence of the greatness of this system.