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clan Valley on the east bank of the
Jordan River, together with the
land on the west bank, constitute
an area in which there has been
human settlement for the past
nine millennia and over which
invading armies — Egyptian, As-
syrian, Babylonian, Greek, Ro-
man, Arab, Crusader — have
fought ever since.
The serious traveler will have
packed a basic guideb000k
(Fodor's will do), as well as a copy
of the Bible — for hundreds of fa-
miliar names from its pages will
spring up in sites and towns from
the Syrian frontier at the north
to Aqaba (a twin city to Eilat) on
the Red Sea, 300 miles to the
Occupying a large part of the
floor of the monastery atop Mt.
Nebo is an extraordinary pictor-
ial map of the panorama as
Moses saw it. The mosaic, mea-
suring 9 by 30 feet, was made by
Byzantine artisans in the late
6th century CE; its centerpiece is
a city plan of Jerusalem as it was
at the time.
Indeed, Palestine, as the des-
ignation for the entire area west
of the Jordan River, is a geo-
graphical reality in which many
Jordanian believe steadfastly,
whatever the political reality em-
bodied in the handshake between
their king and the Israeli prime
minister. Abdullah tells us that
30 percent of the country's popu-
lation opposes the peace treaty.
Whatever the validity of his
statement, there is no dobut
about the content of the king-size
map of Jordan sold at the sou-
venir stands which have prolif-
erated at every tourist site. All
the land west of the Jordan is
clearly marked "Palestine." Ac-
cording to the cartographer, if no
one else, an "Israel" simply does
The dream of a Palestinian, or
Jordanian, Jerusalem dies hard,
if at all. From Nebo, we drove on
the 20-or-so-miles into Amman,
an enormous, modern city built
upon seven hills, upon one of
which, the Citadel, an archaeo-
logical museum displays the ar-
tifacts of Amman's 3,000-year
Perhaps of greater significance
was our visit to the splendid, new
mosque in the center of the city.
Prominently displayed in the
front lobby of the mosque, almost
enshrined there, is a model of the
Old City. The dream of a Pales-
tinian, or Jordanian, Jerusalem
dies hard, if at all.
No such political undercur-
rents attend the trip to Petra, a
150-mile, three-hour drive from
Amman along the King's High-
way, one of the most scenic and
history-laden roads in the Mid-
dle East, bordered with numer-
ous Bedouin encampments and
passing through the biblical lands
of Ammon, Moab and Edom.
WONDERFUL SIGHTS page 60
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