April 2, 2022. 95°F/35°C
We BOTH slept in until almost 10 today. That’s what a couple of days of very hot weather and a late night of partying with the Viking Band will do to you.
It was a day at sea en route to Jordan, so we took advantage of more onboard lectures to prepare us for the culture and historic sites awaiting us.
Sadly, I’d slept through Ambassador Ashok’s talk on “The Arab Contribution to World Culture”, but it will be available on our stateroom media screens. I did make it to our “destination speaker” David Burgess’ 11 a.m. lecture though.
Prior to today, I’d heard the term Hashemite applied to Jordan (officially The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), but didn’t really know what it meant. I learned that Hashemite refers to any of the Arab descendants, either direct or collateral, of the prophet Muhammad. The current royal family of Jordan, founders of the 20th-century Hashemite dynasty, are of this lineage.
Jordan has historic connections to the empires of Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Rome, and Greece. There are Bronze Age fortifications here, many destroyed by earthquakes, but in general the populations here were nomadic, based on the need to move to wherever water was available. It became the homeland of the formerly nomadic Nabateans, famously the occupants of magnificent Petra, which became a crucial crossroad for trade between Asia, Assyria, Greece, and, fatally, Rome. Fatally, because once Petra came to Rome’s attention as an important centre for trade, it was only a matter of time before Rome needed to “assimilate” it.
Greek/Hellenistic influences can be seen in Nabatean art and architecture. After coming under the control of Rome, Roman influences were added. The Nabateans’ capital city of Petra (more about it tomorrow) was eventually abandoned.
Jordan was at the time of Rome’s takeover a Greek-speaking culture, but Rome decreed it should be Latin-speaking and Christian.
The plague in the 6th century and an invasion in the 7th century decimated Jordan’s population during the Byzantine period, but the spread of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries brought both prosperity and the Arabic language to the country. Jordan became a travel destination for Islamic pilgrimages on the route to Mecca, and again an important trade centre. A 400 year period of Ottoman rule also ensued between 1516 and 1918 AD.
Think about all these dates. The history we are able to touch here in the Middle East is mind-boggling.
In the afternoon, I took in Barbara Ferguson’s talk entitled: “Wendell Phillips: America’s Indiana Jones”, about the palaeontologist who was the real-life inspiration for the Indiana Jones character. Our visit to Petra tomorrow will take us to the place where Sean Connery uttered the line that is the title of this blog entry.
No one in today’s audience had ever heard of Wendell Phillips, which is interesting given the importance of his finds in Yemen, his media coverage in the 1940’s, and the fact that when he died he was one of the richest men in the world. Barbara had great stories to share of his derring-do, his relentless self-promotion, and the many ways in which his large personality inspired Steven Spielberg’s now famous Indiana Jones character.
We had an unexpected treat at dinner time, when we shared a table for the first time with Stan and Sherry at the Chef’s Table. They are one of the couples we’ve chatted with in passing, and who shared our Bus 10 desert “adventure” a few days ago. It was a new Indian menu, and really wonderful.
After dinner, we thoroughly enjoyed Lindsay Deutsch’s violin performance, and the Viking Band’s terrific slow set in Torshavn. Ted even danced!
MY “AHA” MOMENT TODAY: The combined lands of modern-day Palestine, Jordan, and Syria are what was referred to as “Canaan” in the Old Testament.