The forgotten ancients of Jordan


A boy runs through the long grass inside the Jerash archeological site, in Jerash, Jordan.

The ruins of ancient Gerasa, known now as Jerash, are among the best-preserved of any provincial city of the Roman Empire. The monuments and temples, baths and amphitheaters, plazas and colonnaded streets transport visitors back to the first few centuries A.D. when the city prospered under emperors like Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus. The marks of chariot wheels can still be seen in the ancient paving stones.

The 160-acre site has been one of Jordan’s main tourist attractions, and a sustainable long-term source of revenue. But it is just 20 miles from the border with Syria, where war has been raging for several years — and the region’s conflicts are anything but a magnet for foreign visitors. I covered this story for The New York Times.