Travelled up by car via Irbid. Trip is simple and takes about 1.5 hours. Irbid is a ‘working’ town, plenty of activity, even though it was a Friday. Umm Qias is to the West and is the site of an Roman city destroyed in 747AD by earthquakes, a fate that befall many similar places across the Roman Empire at various times. It is similar in layout to Jerash and also Ephesus. When you arrive it is a little unclear where to go to get into the main entrance, drive a little past the first entrance which is populated by touts and look for the tourist buses. The ticket entrance is up on the right. The site is very easy to walk around and you will be struck by the Basalt columns and sandstone columns – I am told the first indicates volcanic activity, hence fertile soil, and the latter, indicates that the sea once covered the area! Looking out to the west you see the Yarmouk River and the Sea of Galliee, which is called Lake Tiberias these days! It is quite a drop down and the area below is obviously fertile with many farms and green olive groves and the like.
According to the Bible this was were Jesus caste the demons from two men into nearby pigs, thus curing them – what from I don’t know, nor is why he picked on the poor pigs, surely rocks would have been better! From the slides below you get a good idea of the ruins and the land forms, the Sea of Galliee can be seen in the distance in one.
The picture of the dryed thistle head is my favorite – there are over 50 species in Jordan and the baking sun dries their flow heads perfectly.
The drive back to Amman is via the Jordan Valley; the otherwise dry environment is provided water from the Jordan River by irrigation channels – water rights is a geo-political issue, which is a fancy way of saying, like many things, people in the area don’t share limited resources very well, not at all really if they can help it!
The Israel occupied Golan Heights can be seen in the distance – these were occupied during the 1967 war and rested from Syria, who want them back. One does not have to ponder long why accendency over the GH’s has been fought over often – as the French guide said to his group, who where hell bent on crowding around my table, which had the best view!!, all 20 of them: ‘domination and strategic…..’, say those words with a French accent.