Petra (meaning stone in Greek) served as the capital of the Nabatean kingdom and a crossroads on trade routes to Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and beyond.
The Nabateans began migrating from western Arabia and settling in Petra around the 6th century BCE. In their early history, they led a nomadic life, traveling and trading goods. They originally established Petra as a religious burial site and lived in tents around the public structures. As they developed trade routes and accumulated wealth, they settled in houses in a crowded city center and in small villages around the city.
Petra came under the control of the Romans in 106 CE, acquiring a few Roman-style structures such as the Colonnade Street, and later acquiring churches during the Byzantine era. Petra’s decline started around the 7th century CE with the shift in trade routes and occurrence of violent earthquakes. It slowly slipped into obscurity until its rediscovery in 1812.