The first desert castle we visited was actually a city called Umm al-Jimal, referred to by archaeologists as the “black gem of the desert”. There were over 150 buildings at one time. Now it has the ruins of at least 128 houses and 15 churches remaining. These buildings provide historians with insight into rural life during the Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic periods.
Notice the Jordan flag in the background (on top of another building in the distance)
The site was surreal to walk through. You could just imagine what it would look like in 600 AD with Roman soldiers walking through or in the 1920s when the French army were there.
I'm amazed by the structure of the rocks and how they were layed on top of each other to sustain weight.
The next castle stop was Qasr Al-Azraq. This was a fort where TE Lawrence and Sharif Hussein bin Ali based themselves in the winter of 1917-18 during the Arab Revolt. We stood in the very room they had been. Much of this ancient fort was destroyed by an earthquake in 1927.
Little is known about the history of Qasr Al-Azraq, but some Greek and Latin inscriptions around 300 AD.
This was a mosque. Our tour guide, Jimallah (more about her later), is showing us how they would pray in the mosque.
There is much more information about the weekend and today to come! Just a little bit - Today we went to Columbia University's Middle East Research Center along with Queen Rania's Teacher Academy - where a few of us may join in a workshop next week.
One more thing before I go. Yesterday we met with the president of Yarmouk University in Irbid. This was a great honor. He met with us and had a lunch prepared for us ALONG with the Ministry of Interior. After lunch, the president gave each of us a pin and key chain in a very formal manner with pictures and a handshake. In his office he had large pictures of the King, the crown prince and pictures of him shaking hands with the King and the Queen - so we were in very royal company.
As you see below, there was one person feeling left out.
In my little voice, I said, "Excuse me, I am a first grade teacher and would love if you could shake Elmo's hand." He was very happy to do so and even said, "I have four cats at home!" I told him that was kind of the same as I petted Elmo's stomach! Ok. I am sure the president went home and said to his wife, "There was this very strange woman there today who asked me to shake the hand of a little red furry monster...." Hee heee...