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Throughout history, Amman has been inhabited by several civilizations. The first civilization on record is during the Neolithic period, around 6500 BC, where archaeological discoveries in Ain Ghazal , in eastern Amman, showed evidence of not only a settled life then but also the growth of artistic work, which suggests that a well-developed civilization inhabited the city at that time. In the 13th century BC Amman was called Rabbath Ammon or Rabat Amon by the Ammonites (רַבַּת עַמּוֹן, Standard Hebrew Rabbat ʿAmmon, Tiberian Hebrew Rabbaṯ ʿAmmôn). It was later conquered by the Assyrians, followed by the Persians, and then the Greeks, who called it Philadelphia. In the 1st century BC, Philadelphia came under Roman control and joined the Decapolis - a league of ten cities.
In 324 AD, Christianity became the religion of the empire and Philadelphia became the seat of bishopric. This was the start of the Byzantine era. It got its present name Amman in the Ghassanian era, and flourished under the Ummayads and the Abbasids. It was then destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters, until 1887 - which marks the settlement of the Circassians. In 1921 Prince Abdullah chose Amman as seat of his new government and later as the Capital of the Kingdom of Jordan. Amman stayed a small city until 1948, by which time the population had grown considerably large as a result of the influx of Palestinian refugees. Residential areas have spread out from the centre of the city to the surrounding hills. For example, several communities thrive in Jarash.
21st century Amman is one of the most comfortable and relaxed cities in the Middle East, a place where Muslims, Christians and the small number of people from other faiths live together without significant conflict.
The city's population continues to expand at a dizzying pace (fueled by refugees escaping the tragic events in Israel/Palestine and Iraq). During the last 10 years the amount of new building within the city has increased dramatically with new districts of the city being founded at a very rapid pace (particularly so in West Amman), straining the very scarce water supplies of Jordan as a whole.
The older downtown area centred around the old Souk (a colorful traditional market) and the King Hussein Mosque is now completely dwarfed by the sprawling urban areas that surround it but despite the changes much remains of its old character.
Amman is conveniently located for many of the attractions favoured by tourists visiting the country. It is just 45 minutes by car to several interesting places; the baptism site (Al-Maghtas in Arabic) on the River Jordan where Jesus was believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist, Mount Nebo (where according to Christians, Moses is supposed to have died), and to the unique ultra saline waters of the Dead Sea.
- Al Ahliyya Amman University
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