The Treasury, El Khazneh, small but perfectly formed and the first of Petra’s ancient rock structures inside the geological basin.
In Arabic the Treasury is called Khaznet Far’oun, Pharaoh’s Treasury, from a popular legend that treasure was concealed here by an Egyptian Pharaoh. In fact local Bedouin thought that the urn at the top of the Treasury could be the treasure chest and frequently shot at it in the hope it would explode and shower down gold, as bullet marks attest.
The Treasury’s actual purpose is still unknown. Some believe it was a royal tomb, with the premium burial spot in the small chamber at the back, while others think it was an elaborate memorial due to funerary carvings on the facade, or perhaps a temple since it looks like a temple, has a sanctuary in the back and a wash basin.
The construction date of the Treasury is also unknown, but some scholars think around 86-62 BC, under the command of Nabataean king Aretas III Philhellene as the facade contains many references to or symbols of Greek gods as well as Nabataean deities; otherwise it could have been during the reign of Aretas IV around 25 AD. Aretas was responsible for much of Petra’s later planning and construction.
But whenever or whoever designed the Treasury at the end of the quietly claustrophobic Al-Siq succeeded in creating a spectacular entrance to one of the wonders of the world, the Nabataean capital of Petra, Jordan.
Looking the other way, from the Treasury entrance to the Siq.
10 sq miles (16 sq kms) of Nabataean Petra, cunningly concealed, though the Romans got there in the end.