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Excursion to Jordan: seventh day (May 15, 2004)

We get on our way back from Petra to Amman without knowing that along the road we will be caught in a dangerous sandstorm. We plan also to stop at Kerak for a visit to its mighty Crusader manor. Kerak is identified with the capital city of Moab (2Kings 3:25; Is 16:7.11; Jer 48:31), a place well known by all ancient sources, cf. Charachmoba in the mosaics of Madaba and Umm ar-Rasas.


The northeast wall of the castle of al-Kerak, defended by a large moat. The castle, called Le Crac de Moab, was constructed between 1142 and 1161 A.D. by Payen the Butler and the De Milly family. The Ayyubids and the Mamelukes rebuilt it, albeit keeping some parts of the old building unaltered.

Plan of the castle
1: Present entrance
2: Original entrance
3: North and south moats
4: Cistern
5: Glacis
6: Chapel
7: Mameluke residence
8: Museum

Most famous among the princes of Kerak was René de Chatillon, who married Etiennette de Milly in 1177 A.D. From this stronghold, he commanded all the Transjordanian region and the gulf of Aqaba. In 1188 Saladin conquered al-Kerak after an eigth months long siege, and gave the castle to his brother al-Adil. Two of the towers and the eastern glacis are the works of Bibars, while the residential palace (Dar al-Sultana) in the inner part of the castle was built by al-Nasir Muhammad. Ahmad son of al-Nasir-Muhammad, in 1342 A.D., made briefly Kerak the capital of the Mameluke sultanate.

Pausing in the area of the castle's church. There is nothing left of it except for a vault from the nave. On the left is the sector wich was rebuilt by al-Nasir-Muhammad as the see of the Mameluke governor.

View from the higher level towards the west.

Panoramic view of the valley reaching down toward the Dead Sea, near Ghor es-Safi. In the Old Testament, this valley has the name of the ascent of Luhith, cf. Is 15:5.

Interior of the castle, which has been renovated to accomodate the archaeological Museum.

A big hallway in the basement of the Crusader castle..

A view of the castle from the north.

On the Desert Highway, before reaching Amman, we met a violent sandstorm. Some accidents witch occurred to cars and trucks were so severe to require the intervention of police officers as well as medical assistance.


On the Citadel of Amman, al-Qalaa. In the foreground are the ruins of a Byzantine church from the 6th cent. A.D.

Plan of the Acropolis of Rabbat Ammon
1: Lower Acropolis
2: Entrance gate from the Lower City
3: Abbasid Tower
4: Temple of Hercules
5: Museum
6: Byzantine church
7: Byzantine houses
8: Cistern
9: Umayyad mosque
10: Umayyad Palace
11: Upper Acropolis

On the Ammonite citadel also the Ptolemies (cf. Philadephia), the Romans, the Byzantines and the Umayyads have been active. In 2Sam 12:26-28 we read: Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites, and took the royal city. And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the city of waters. Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; lest I take the city, and it be called by my name.”

The front of the Temple of Hercules, built in the 2nd cent. A.D.. The dating is based upon an inscription mentioning Marcus Aurelius and the governor of Arabia, Geminius Marcianus. The restoration work was started by R. Bartoccini, G. Guidi, and C. Ceschi during the years 1927-1937.

The group of students from the SBF posing for a photo in the shade of the Temple of Hercules. The temple stands inside a temenos measuring 122x72 m, while the temple itself is 31x26 m wide.

In the foreground is the recently discovered Umayyad mosque; in the background, the cupola of the Dar al-Imara, the caliph's residence.

The Dar al-Imara vestibule, rebuilt by a Spanish expedition directed by A.G. Almagro. The complex is composed (from south to north) of the vestibule, the administration rooms, the thermal baths, two courtyards, and the private residence.

A vast cistern with a circular shape.

View of the theater of Amman from te top seats. Down in the valley, along the the cardo of ancient Philadelphia (the Hellenistic name of Amman), find place also a Nimphaeum (a temple for water deities) and the remains of the Forum (the main market place).

Click on the photos to enlarge.

External Links

Kerak - Jordan (AtlasTour)

Charach-Moba - Karak (the Madaba Map website)

Virtual Karak Resources Project

Amman (A Touristic site)

Amman (Ancient Texts Related to the Bible)

Amman (BiblePlaces)

 SBF main, Indice

Biblical Excursions

Biblical World



Umm el-Jimal



W. Kharrar




M. Nebo




Umm er-Rasas





Archaeological Museum

Iraq el-Amir

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