Mother of Camels

Umm Al-Jimal, meaning Mother of Camels, is a town just 10km from the Syrian border. We went there for the ruins of a Byzantine and early Islamic town, as well as an older Roman village, built from black Basalt rocks.

A number of Greek and Nabataean inscriptions found on the site date the village to the first century AD as a rural suburb of the ancient Nabataean capital of Bostra (Syria). During the first century, the population of the site is estimated at 2,000–3,000 people.

Many stones with different inscriptions were found in the ruins

Upon the foundation of Provincia Arabia in AD 106, the Romans took over the village as Emperor Trajan incorporated the surrounding lands into the empire.

During the 5th and 6th centuries, Umm Al-Jimal prospered as a farming and trading town in which the population jumped to an estimated 4,000–6,000 people. However, after the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, the village population diminished.  In 749, an earthquake destroyed much of the area and Umm Al-Jimal was finally abandoned.

The famous double arched windows of a palace
Stone doors are still moveable
Stairs made from stones standing out of the wall

The ruins are distinctive to any other ancient city we had seen so far: the black basalt gives it a unique appearance, and the way to construct was one-of-a-kind. Due to the lack of lumber, ceilings, stairs and balconies are made of basalt blocks, which protrude from the masonry, often only held horizontally by the weight of the stones above.

Incredible ceilings everywhere
Our guide walked for us over the arch of a cystern
Still intact roof made from stone slabs
Ventilation through openings in the wall
A special tomb next to the church
Elaborate roof of an official building

We were fascinated by this ancient city, which was so different to nearby Jerash but grand in its own way.

2 thoughts on “Mother of Camels”

  1. Torsten, DG7RO

    Grosartige Bauweise, die nun immer noch hält – heute sind wir weit davon entfernt, dass Gebäude so lange stehen bleiben

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