Umm al-Jimal literally means ‘Mother of Camels’
Umm al-Jimal (or Umm el-Jimal) on the western edge of the desert. Built almost entirely of black basalt, the ruins of this ancient settlement extend over more than 0.5 km2. While parts of it date back to the Nabataean period, the most impressive remains are Byzantine and Umayyad.
Today, you can still walk through the city’s streets, surrounded by facades of well-preserved three-storey houses with vaulted ceilings, staircases and arched windows, more than 1200 years old. The settlement was gradually abandoned during the 9th century AD as a result of natural disasters and political shifts.
Colours of natural and built environments
Throughout history, local geology had a tremendous impact on the colours of cities and the identities of their inhabitants.
What is the dominant building material in your hometown
What’s the colour of your local rocks? Are you living in a rose city like Petra, or in a beige or greenish one? Do you experience a sense of familiarity when you are in an old town anywhere else in the world which is dominated by the same colour?
It’s fascinating to think about how people in the past would have experienced the colours of natural and built environments. Imagine Nabataeans from Petra and Umm al-Jimal visiting modern-day Glasgow – would they experience the city differently, depending on the colours of their hometowns?
Visitng Umm al-Jimal
Visit Jordan has information about visiting Umm al Jimal. If that’s just a dream, you can learn more about the ‘Mother of Camels’ from its international archaeological project.