Caravan Relief

The Siq, Petra

This life-sized relief, of five camels and their drivers, is located on the left wall of the Siq as one progresses towards Petra. It celebrates the caravan trade that formed the basis of Nabataean wealth and influence. The relief is now badly eroded, but one can make out a few details on its lower portion, such as the lower body of a camel driver (photo right).

When Petra ceased to be inhabited, the elaborate system of dams and channels that kept its waters in check was no longer maintained. Floods poured through the Siq, completely scouring away most of the relief. Eventually, water-borne silt buried the floor of the Siq to a depth of more than six feet, preserving what was left of the lower part of the relief. In modern times, the silt was excavated away, and the ancient flood control system was restored.