Lost Treasure of Petra

Few people realize that there is actually a treasure connected with the legend of Petra. According to the news article in the Ottawa Journal for January 29, 1927. Headlined: “Will Hunt for Enormous Treasure Hidden for Years in Mystery City of Petra,” it reads as follows: “LONDON (by Mail) - Exquisite gold ornaments and precious stones—part of what may prove the greatest ancient treasure ever recovered, making insignificant even the splendors of Tutankhamun’s tomb—have come into the hands of an eminent archaeologist connected with the British Museum.“ The story of the discovery by a wandering Bedouin, who literally tripped on the “Open Sesame” to a labyrinth of underground passages that led to the treasure-house of a long vanished race, transcends the imaginings of the “Arabian Nights” author.

  Headline news of Ottawa Journal (29-1-1927)

Further romance is added by the theory that the treasure includes the loot of ancient pirates and so plausible does the story appear in the light of the genuine finds, including a Cretan gold buckle of long ago, that an expedition of scientists has been sent to the site of the mysterious stone city of Petra, between the Gulf of Akabah and the Dead Sea.

Investigation revealed that the first treasures had been obtained from an Arab sheik at Jerusalem, who furnished protection to caravans in Northern Arabia. After months of effort this man was traced. It was then discovered that the treasures had been unearthed by Arabs at Petra.

The city was, in its prime, the capital of Nabateans, an ancient Arab tribe which conquered the Edom of the Bible, and a hundred years before Christ, had created a powerful kingdom extending north to Damascus, west to Gaza, and into Palestine and Central Arabia. The Nabateans controlled the caravan routes of the interior and were also great sailors and pirates. Both King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba used them to carry goods by sea and land to distant countries.

This region remained unconquered until a mysterious and unrecorded tragedy emptied it of its hundreds of thousands, practically wiped out the Nabatean race and caused it to be shunned for centuries by the Arabs and nomads around it.

There’s no record that the accumulated wealth of Petra has ever been carried away. If that treasure ever existed it is believed that it still must be there. Expeditions before the war (World War I) were dangerous because of the attitude of the Arabs and the isolated locality. The city was lost to European knowledge for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1812 by the German explorer Buckhardt. Since then not more than a dozen archaeologists have visited it because of its inaccessibility.

But since the war, under the British protection of Palestine, matters have changed, and the party now on its way under military guard will have no trouble in investigating and excavating. The clue to the treasure chambers is shown close to a remarkable building called: ‘The Treasury of Pharaoh’, which like all the other temples is cut out of the side of the mountain.

According to the story of the Arab, some wandering Bedouins encamped in Petra, in the upper valley, close to the Treasury. One of them passed back into the deep rooms within the cliffs. Poking around among the debris be stepped upon ‘a moving stone.’ The stone tilted and dropped back into a shallow vault, then crashed back into place, leaving him in darkness. He cried out in vain for help. Feeling around the vault, he came across the opening of a passage. After groping his way along it for about half a mile, always moving upwards, he saw a faint light. He came out into a large chamber, from which six other passages led back into the mountain. In the center of the chamber, on a pedestal, was a huge urn. He climbed the pedestal and within the urn saw a heap of gems and gold. Taking a couple of handfuls, he knotted them in his cap and went to a fissure in the wall through which the light streamed and found himself out on the side of the mountain far above the valley. Scrambling and falling, he got back safely to his camp near sunset.

He showed his find to the half-dozen members of his family, and they spent several days trying to discover “the stone that moved,” and the fissure, but without success.

The ancients had great skill, British Museum authorities point out, in contriving secret passageways and doors whose entrances were apparently part of the stone walls themselves, but which, by a cunningly devised system of balances, would easily open under pressure at a certain point.

The treasure may have been found in an entirely different way, but the Arab’s story is considered worth investigating.

Since the news article appeared 75 years have passed and one cannot help but wonder if the treasure mentioned and the secret door still are untouched. People in 1927 did not have ground penetrating radar and modern electronic technology, so if something does still exist on the site, it is only a matter of time before it once again comes to light.

Atlantis Rising Magazine Vol.35 : Indiana Jones' Treasure—Was It Real? Petra’s Magnificent and Mysterious Ruins May Be the Home of Unclaimed Wealth written by W. Ritchie Benedict;

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Atlantis Rising Magazine Vol.35 : "Indiana Jones' Treasure—Was It Real? Petra’s Magnificent and Mysterious Ruins May Be the Home of Unclaimed Wealth" written by W. Ritchie Benedict page 71

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