NAME THAT COUNTRY

 

The fortified mountain palace of Machaerus is infamous as the place where Salome danced for the head of John the Baptist, whom her step father Herod Antipas had imprisoned there for two years.

Located near the village of Mukawir, about 40km south of the mosaic-rich town of Madaba, Machaerus is one of three fortified desert retreats built by Herod the Great (father to Herod Antipas) and the only one in our mystery country. The other two fortresses are located across the river which gave the country its name and forms part of its western border.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY

Shobak is the Arabic name for the 12th century crusader fortress of Montreal. It sprawls across a lonely hilltop in the southwest of the country, the area known as Edom in the Bible. The castle was built in 1115 by King Baldwin I, the first king of the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. Like Kerak, its sister fortress to the north, Shobak was built to guard the King’s Highway, an ancient trade route used by crusader armies and pilgrims traveling between Damascus and Egypt. The castle fell to the army of Saladin in 1189 after a 2-year siege.

 

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NAME THAT CITY & COUNTRY

This 2nd-century Roman theater is carved into a hillside in the middle of a lively national capital. Known as Philadelphia when the theater was built, the city was a member of the Decapolis, a group of 10 culturally-similar cities in the eastern Roman Empire. The theater seats 6,000 and is still used for concerts and other performances.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY

A network of small castles extend eastward along ancient trade routes from Amman, the capital city of our mystery country. They are important examples of early Islamic architecture, built in 7th and 8th centuries by Umayyad caliphs. Although they are collectively referred to as castles, they include forts, towers, baths and caravanserai. Built in the early Islamic period, when figurative art was common, some of the castles shelter lovely frescos of dancing-girls, hunting parties, assembled rulers and cavorting animals. Later, depictions of humans and animals was discouraged in Islamic art. Qasr Kharana, about 40 miles east of Amman.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY

In the north of our mystery country, the Greco-Roman Decapolis city of Pella was built on a site that had already been inhabited for thousands of years. (Hellenistic Greeks named the city after the Macedonian birthplace of Alexander the Great.) Archaeologists have discovered a substantial fortification wall from the early Bronze Age and a Canaanite temple, as well as remains from Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods; and there’s still a great deal to be excavated. Pella does not attract as many visitors as the better known and more flashy Decapolis city of Jerash, but most who do visit are impressed by its subtle, evocative quality and beautiful setting.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 131

The Street of Facades is a main thoroughfare in the most famous tourist destination of our mystery country. Rock-cut tombs of some of the rich and powerful of this ancient Nabatean city line the section of the street pictured, with more modest tombs further down the way. In this sprawling site, beyond the Street of Facades, are temples, theaters and more tombs, some even more grandiose than those pictured.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 121

The Greco-Roman city of Pella (named for the birthplace of Alexander the Great) was a Decapolis city, one of 10 centers of Greek culture established on the eastern fringes of the Hellenistic Greek world. Pella is located about 80 miles north of our mystery country’s capital city Amman (built on the site of another Decapolis city, Philadelphia).

 

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