The Urn Tomb (The Court)

About this place

The Urn Tomb is one of the most popular spots in the Petra Archeological Park. Like the other Royal Tombs right next to it, the Urn Tomb holds ancient Nabatean nobility, whose exact identity is still a matter of academic argument; most scientists think this one belongs to King Malchus II or King Aretas IV. What makes this tomb special? 

History of the Urn Tomb in Petra

The Urn Tomb was carved into the rock around 70 AD, long after the Nabateans were influenced by Hellenistic culture. Most of this site's archeology is from the second half of the 1st century, including the most famous piece - The Treasury of Petra (Al-Khazneh). 

The Urn Tomb in Petra (by Bernard Gagnon CC BY-SA 3.0)

This tomb is a good example of the combination of local and Greek designs: The tomb has an impressive 26 by 16.49-meter facade, and you'll have to climb a flight of stairs to reach the entrance. Inside you'll find a row of columns and a square, leading to the primary chamber

This square is known by the bedouins as Al-Mahkamah - the courtyard - and it is believed the place was used for trials in ancient times. The name Urn Tomb comes from a Jar crowning its pediment. The court's rear wall exposes another page in the tomb's history: an inscription etched in stone around 447 AD declares the place as a Byzantine church. During these times, the Urn Tombs were expanded with round niches. 

Pro Tip: The Urn Tomb courtyard is a great spot for taking photos of Petra itself.