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Throughout the 20th century, a large area of central Petra, capital of the ancient Nabataean kingdom (centered in modern Jordan), was believed to be the site of the city’s marketplace. This identification was based on the area’s large, open, unbuilt appearance in conjunction with Petra’s role as an important entrepôt on the trade routes connecting southern Arabia and the Mediterranean. Although Petra has been the subject of archaeological investigations for more than a century, the “markets” remained unexplored while attention was focused on tombs, temples, churches, colonnaded street and arched gateway, the ruins of which dominate the ancient city’s landscape. In 1998, a preliminary survey and excavation of the so-called “Lower Market”, revealed the remains of a monumental swimming-pool with island-pavilion. In association with the swimming-pool are the remnants of an elaborate hydraulic system – channels, pipelines, and a diversion tank (castellum) – that transported water to the pool and irrigated the large earthen terrace to the north of the pool. The Petra Garden and Pool Complex is the only example of a Nabataean garden known in the archaeological record, and is one of the few ancient
garden sites to be excavated or studied in the region.

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