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History & Culture

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The Temple of Hercules.

Amman's history spans nine millennia dating back to the Stone Age. It boasts one of the largest Neolithic settlements (c.6500 BC) ever discovered in the Middle East. The Citadel hill contains early Bronze Age tombs (3300-1200 BC).

By the beginning of the Iron Age Amman had become the capital of the Ammonites, referred to in the Bible, and was called Rabbath-Ammon. It was here that King David of Israel killed Uriah the Hittite. Fortress towers ringed the city at that time - the best preserved of these can still be seen today - but they were little protection against King David's attack. His forces toppled the Ammonites and, apart from a brief revival in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, the area was ruled in succession by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians for several hundred years. By the 4th century BC the city had been renamed "Philadelphia" after its Ptolemaic ruler, Philadelphus.

Seleucid and Nabataean rule followed until 63 BC, when it was absorbed into the Roman Empire and the Roman general, Pompey, annexed Syria and made Philadelphia part of the Decapolis League - an alliance of ten free city states with overall allegiance to Rome. The Romans rebuilt the city with colonnaded streets, baths, a theatre and impressive public buildings. Philadelphia found itself at the centre of the new Roman province of Arabia and of lucrative trade routes running between the Mediterranean and an interior that stretched to India and China as well as routes north and south. The city flourished.



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During the Byzantine period, when Christianity became the official religion of the Eastern Roman Empire, the city was the seat of a Christian Bishop and two churches were constructed. By the early 7th century, Islam was already spreading northwards from the Arabian Peninsula and, by 635 AD, had embraced the land as part of its domain. The city returned to its original Semitic name of Ammon or, as it is known today, Amman.

With various shifts in political power over the following centuries, Amman's fortunes declined. During the Crusades and under the Mameluks of Egypt, Amman's importance was overtaken by the rise of Karak in the south. By 1321 AD, it was reported that Amman was "a very ancient town and was ruined before the days of Islam" there are great ruins here and the river al-Zarqa flows through them.”

Under the Ottoman Empire, Amman remained a small backwater with As-Salt being the main town of the area. By 1806, the city was reported to be uninhabited except for the Bedouins.

The departure of the Ottomans from the region coincided with the exodus of a large numbers of Circassian and other persecuted Muslims from the Caucasus. They found refuge in the area and established a settlement on the east bank of the Jordan River. Although they were mostly farmers, amongst these early settlers there were also gold and silversmiths and other craftsmen, and it wasn’t long before they built rough roads linking their settlement to Amman. Commerce, once again, began to flourish.

 Learn more about Amman's historical sites



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The Hejaz Railway.

But it was the construction of the Hejaz Railway which really brought the city back to life. Linking Damascus with Medina, the railway passed through Amman in 1902. Once again, Amman became the centre of a busy trade route and its population began to grow. By 1905, the city held a mixed population of some 3000 people.

On May 5th,1923, the Emirate of Transjordan came into existence, with Emir Abdullah, a Hashemite and direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), as its undisputed leader. On the March 22nd,1946, Transjordan secured its independence. Two months later, Abdullah’s title of Emir was changed to King, and the country was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with Amman as its capital.



CULTURE
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One of the numerous art galleries in Amman.

Over the ensuing decades the city has expanded and flourished to become a modern, lively, commercial metropolis of well over two million people. Excellent hotels and accommodation, gourmet restaurants, coffee shops, shopping centres, offices and luxury villas have replaced older dwellings. However, there is still much of the old city to be admired.

In addition to its numerous archaeological sites, Amman has many museums, art galleries and cultural centres, as well as theatres and cinemas.

The Royal Film Commission of Jordan

The Royal Film Commission of Jordan aims to contribute to the development of an internationally competitive Jordanian audio-visual production industry, partly by developing and cultivating film culture, and by encouraging Jordanians to use film and audio-visual media to tell their stories, voice their opinions and express their ideas. The Commission also provides opportunities for audiences to get together with filmmakers to watch independent and experimental films, open a dialogue with filmmakers, exchange ideas, and cultivate multimedia literacy.

For more information, please contact:

P.O.Box 811991
Amman 11181 Jordan
Tel: +962 6 464 22 66
Fax: +962 6 464 2299
E-mail: info@film.jo
Website: www.film.jo

 Click here for a list of cultural venues in Amman



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The Jordan Archaeological Museum boasts an excellent collection of antiquities ranging from prehistoric times to the 15th century, including an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls and four Iron Age anthropomorphic coffins.

In Graeco-Roman times, Amman was known as Philadelphia, it was named after the Roman emperor Philadelphus. Prior to that it was known as Rabbath-Ammon.

Amman consists of an old and more traditional part called the City Centre or Downtown (in Arabic 'Al-Balad'), and a modern more vibrant western style found in West Amman.

Amman is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world.