I stood in the hot Jordanian sun on the steps of a Byzantine
basilica in Amman in search of Pagan gods. I decided to have a peek
inside the Temple of Hercules, which has been turned into the
archaeological museum. After perusing the Dead Sea Scrolls, I
exited the museum and perched on top of the Citadel like a
gargoyle. I could see what looked like Zeus in the amphitheater
down below in the center of Old Amman.
I scurried downhill, all the while observing that Amman is the
oldest continuously inhabited city and is full of swank houses and
five-star hotels with every amenity and convenience of the West.
Amman contrasts sharply with the old town in the valley full of
ancient amphitheaters, crumbling Roman columns, minarets, markets
bustled with activity, kebab stalls with roasted meat and craftsmen
sipping on rich Arabic coffee.
I elbowed my way through the crowded streets and snacked on
exotic sweets along the way. Distracted by the treasures in the
souks, I bought some quilted pillowcases and a brass Samovar. By
the time I got there, the 2,000-year-old amphitheater was closed
and the golden sun was setting behind Amman’s 19 hills.
The full moon began to rise, and I found myself at a quaint
cafe, checking my e-mail. A handsome man in a black T-shirt and
jeans brought me a strong vodka and lemon juice, and I asked him if
he was a Greek god.
He said, “Sugar, if you want to find a Greco-Roman god, you have
to go north to Jerash where Artemis [Goddess of Hunt and the
Moon]has a temple.”
I watched the moon rise as big as a brass Jordanian platter
over, I believe, the sixth hill of Amman. It is no surprise to be
drinking alcohol in a Muslim country because Jordan like Egypt,
Turkey and many Asian Muslim countries does not have a ban on
alcohol, leaving this as a matter of choice to citizens and
visitors. I chose to have another and talk to the Adonis in
Jerash, a city once buried in sand and perfectly preserved is
over 6,500 years old and located about 30 miles north of Amman
among the mountains of Gilead. It is one of the largest and most
well-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the Near East.
Jerash is full of ornate towers, a long colonnaded street, a
hippodrome, an oval forum, limestone arched city gates, magnificent
baths and a faultless sewer system dating back to the Neolithic
However, no gods or goddesses were hanging out. Word is that
they were vacationing with Aphrodite at the Red Sea.
Amman Amphitheatre: Located on Quraysh Street
Amman Citadel: Jabal al-Qalaa; open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
(winter), 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (summer); Fridays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Books@Cafe: This trendy hot spot offers an Internet cafe,
bookstore, restaurant and disco. Located at Jabal Amman, 1st
Open 9:30 a.m.-midnight, daily
Jordan Folklore Museum: open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fridays, 10
Museum of Popular Traditions: open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed
Jerash Visitor’s Center: Open daily 7 a.m. until dark. From
July-October a sound and light show takes place every
Jordan Tourism Board