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Copyright © Richard Harpum
Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") at Petra is one of the most elaborate temples in this ancient Nabataean city in southern Jordan. As with most of the other buildings in vast city, the structure was carved out of the sandstone rock face. It is the first major building to appear after walking through the Siq, a spectacular narrow canyon that winds for over 1,200m before opening out into the main city.
I visited Petra in 2014 and without doubt it was the highlight of my trip to Jordan. This painting depicts the amazing view of the Treasury as you emerge from the Siq - it is truly a breath-taking sight, especially in the morning sunlight.
Al Khazneh was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt at the beginning of the 1st Century AD. The name Treasury derives from a legend that bandits or pirates hid their loot in the stone urn on top of the rotunda. Regrettably, you can see significant bullet damage on the urn and indeed other parts of the structure, as raiders attempted to break it open in the hope of releasing the "treasure". However the urn is solid sandstone.
Many of the building's architectural details have eroded away during the two thousand years since it was carved and sculpted from the cliff. However, because it is in a relatively sheltered area, it is still in far better condition than most of the other buildings in the city, which have suffered from more severe weathering, as well as removal of stonework.
The Treasury has appeared in many Hollywood movies, gaining particular fame after being featured in climactic scenes in the popular 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which it is represented as the entrance to the final resting place of the Holy Grail near Hatay.
In this painting, I show one of the many camels that were being touted for rides around the city. This one was adorned in elaborate Bedouin textiles. The people milling around the entrance give a sense of just how large this building is. And somehow, my favourite dog Oscar has found his way into the city and seems to have taken a liking to one of the Bedouin camel drivers.
This painting was selected by a jury to be part of the ARTBOX.PROJECT, Armory Artweeks, New York City and put on display in March 2018.
Copyright © Richard Harpum; All Rights Reserved
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