Amman city is considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and many civilizations have inhabited the city of Amman for decades. Visitors around the world may only see modern Amman, one of the fascinating aspects of the city is how a visitor can find & see Byzantine church ruins in a busy shopping district, or see the ruins of an Ammonite fortress tower from the windows of a hotel. Like it's mountains (Jebels) or hills, the fortunes of Amman have risen, fallen, and risen again.
The largest Neolithic settlement in the Middle East has been discovered not far from Amman at Ain Ghazzal, on the Zarqa road, dating back to about 6S00 BC. Bronze Age tombs have been found at Citadel on Jebel al-Qala'a which date to about 3300-1200 BC. A 1994 excavation uncovered homes in the Amman area from the Stone Age, dating to approximately 7000 BC. Amman was a good place to live with fertile plains because of its temperate climate and water sources.
"Rabbath Ammon" was the name of Amman in the Iron Age Ammonites, and Amman became the capital city at that age. The Ammonites fought many battles and wars with other regional leaders, and they finally were defeated after the 10th century siege. The Ammonites, thought to be Lot ancestors. Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians ruled the area over a period of several centuries, and in the 4th century Bc, Ptolemy II rebuilt the city, and named it Philadelphia for a former Ptolemaic leader.
Philadelphia, along with much of the region, was absorbed by Emperor Pompey into the Roman Empire in 63 BC. The city became part of Decapolis and a flourishing trading center. It became known for its cultural centers and beautiful architecture. The 1700 meter-long walls of the Citadel, originally built during the Bronze Ages, were strengthened under the Romans, and the Temple of Hercules was built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).
The Amphitheatre, Odeon, Forum and Nymphaeum were built downtown in front of the Amman Citadel . The Amphitheatre, with 6000 seats, was built in the 2nd century AD. The structure had three layers of seating, with the rulers nearest the stage, the military in the middle, and the hoi polloi near the top, closest to the statue of Athena which scholars believe graced the alcove at the top of the Amphitheatre. A local story says that an underground tunnel runs from the alcove to the top of the Citadel. Cultural & musical events are now held there, making it a striking backdrop for theatre and symphony concerts. The Odeon is a smaller, more intimate theatre, seating about 600 people. It had a roof and was used most frequently for musical performances. The Forum is the square between the two theatres, and was once one of the largest public squares in the Roman world. It was lined along three sides by columns and on the fourth by Seil Amman. The Nymphaeum was a two-story complex with fountains, mosaics and a swimming pool. It was dedicated to water nymphs.
Several churches were built during the Byzantine period, because of this Amman received a bishopric. You can find ruins of three churches on the Citadel, on Jabal Weibdeh, and hidden away in the commercial center of Sweifieh.
Philadelphia continued to flourish during the Islamic caliphate in Damascus and its name changed to Amman. In 749 AD, an earthquake hit the city and The Umayyad Palace on the Citadel which dates back to 720 had been destroyed and never rebuilt.
When the Abbasids moved the capital from Damascus to Baghdad and the Karak came to prominence during the Crusades, Amman's fortunes and importance continued to decline until it was a place to exile. Amman was reported to be inhabited in 1806, although there were a small number of transistor inhabitants, and in 1878 Circassian refugees began to arrive and settled in al-Balad, which is now downtown.
After they arrived in Amman within a few years the Circassians built three mills and several rough roads along Seil Amman, they were farmers and artisans, they also reintroduced tea and the wheel to the area. After a few years of their settlement, there were 2000 inhabitants. Merchants began to move into the area from Salt, Syria, and Palestine.
When the Emir Abdullah arrived in Transjordan, most people thought that Salt would become the new capital. However, he chose Amman, perhaps with encouragement from the Saltis. In 1923, construction began on the Hussein Mosque and in 1925, Raghadan Palace was built. The first telephone directory appeared in 1926 and by 1927 the city enjoyed two different newspapers. By this time, the al Balad area had become crowded, and many people were beginning to build their homes on top of Jabal Amman, which overlooks the area. This neighborhood is where King Hussein grew up, and was a nexus of influential families.
By 1948, Amman's capital had risen to 25,000 inhabitants, and after the 1948 war, Jordan's population rose from 400,000 to about 1,300,000 in a year. Amman's population similarly changed. Roads could no longer be known by the name of the most prominent person who lived there. In 1967, Amman's population of 433,000 inhabitants jumped after over 150,000 Palestinians sought refuge in Jordan following the war and their subsequent dislocation. From 1972 to 1982, Amman grew from 21 square kilometers to 54 square kilometers. After 1991, and the return of 300,000 Palestinians and Jordanians after the 1991 Gulf War, the city grew again. The ongoing Iraq War is the latest event to swell numbers in the city.
Today Amman is different, and it is a city in sections. The working-class area of villas and multi-story apartment complexes, while Sweifieh is a commercial center, East Amman tends to be more conservative and more traditional. Abdoun boasts shops ranging from the long-lived Jordanian Istaqlal Library to global newcomers like Starbucks. Historical neighborhoods like Jebel Amman are being revitalized with an eye to preserving their historic luster, and even al-Balad will soon have a walking tour to increase tourist interest and dinars. At times, walking through Amman can be like looking backwards through a tunnel, with so much history incorporated into such a modern city. But there is nothing more symbolic of Amman than sitting in one of the new or antique cafes in Jabal Amman, listening to the call to prayer and looking out over to the Temple of Hercules on the Citadel.
Amman City is Covered with the following Tour