December 15, 2011

Thursday Geology Picture: Sandstone Statues in the Petra Siq

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Remnants of ancient statues carved out of the sandstone walls of the Petra Siq, Jordan, August 2007.

Geology picture-a-day week continues here at Georneys. Today’s geology picture comes from one of my favorite places on Earth: Petra, Jordan. Petra is an ancient Nabatean city nestled in a broad valley that is protected by steep sandstone terrain. Petra is accessed by the Siq, a narrow canyon through the sandstone. The geology of the Siq is impressive enough: the walls of the canyon reveal beautiful, red rose colored sandstone which contains cross-bedding, concretions, quartz veins, and other interesting textures. However,  the Siq is made even more impressive by the archaeological artifacts it contains: ancient water aquaducts that run along the sides of the canyon (see the background of the above picture), windswept stairs leading to small niches carved out of the rock, and even remnants of what must have been large and impressive statues. In the picture above, you can see the remnants of a sandstone statue of a man leading a camel– but only feet and hooves remain. The small archaeological artifacts found in the Siq hint at the impressive wonders that are found within the city of Petra itself; the Siq teases visitors and leads them along in anticipation.

For those of you who have never heard of the Petra or the Siq before, you might recognize the end of the Siq as well as the impressive Al-Khasnah or “The Treasury” building from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Petra and The Treasury were also visited by my favorite cartoon explorer: Tintin! Speaking of Tintin, is anyone else excited for the Tintin movie that’s coming out very soon? I am!

Here’s what Tintin saw when he reached the end of the Siq:

Tintin's view of The Treasury. Photograph: Hergé/Moulinsart 2010. Image taken from here:

And here’s what I saw in 2007 when I reached the end of the Siq:

The end of the Siq revealing a sliver of The Treasury. Petra, Jordan, August 2007.

Astonished tourists gazing on The Treasury for the first time. Petra, Jordan, August 2007.

The Treasury! Petra, Jordan, August 2007.

Petra is a truly remarkable place, both in terms of geology and archaeology. I could spend days upon days there. Here’s a few more pictures from my 2007 visit to Petra.

And, in case you missed them, here’s my other geology pictures from this week: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. If you follow my twitter feed, I’ve been trying to retweet the geology pictures posted by other geobloggers. If you haven’t already, feel free to join geology picture-a-day week, even if you missed the first part of the week. The more geology pictures, the better!