The Nabataean rock-cut monument of Ad-Dayr, Petra, Jordan.—Brian BrakeRapho/Photo Researchers
Ancient city, Middle East. Located in what is now southwestern Jordan, it was the capital of the Nabataean kingdom until its defeat by the Romans in AD 106. It then became part of the Roman province of Arabia. After several centuries as a flourishing trade centre, it declined with the shifting of trade routes away from the city. It was captured by the Muslims in the 7th century. Its ruins were rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveler Johann L. Burckhardt. Excavations since the mid-20th century have revealed many rock-cut monuments, including tombs with elaborate facades carved in the rose, crimson, and purple sandstone of the surrounding hills. Petra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.