Jordan Brief History

The snowstorm at Landvetter Airport delayed my departure by an hour and a half, which resulted in me missing the connecting plane to Amman in Frankfurt and being rebooked on a route that went via Tel Aviv in Israel instead. This meant that I arrived at Amman with an eight hour delay. Interesting, but not particularly pleasant, experience was the rigorous security check in Tel Aviv. Many questions due to stamps and visas in the passport and it took two hours to check ten people. Jordan was not particularly hospitable in the first days either, but offered awful weather with rain showers, strong winds, cold and snow.

The continuation of the journey offered both historical as well as biblical experiences, a fascinating nature, dramatic elements, many encounters with the very friendly Jordanians and significantly better weather, even sun and heat.

According to A2zgov, to get around Jordan most easily, I rented a car and thus also got to experience the sometimes chaotic Jordanian traffic.

The journey began, and ended, in the capital Amman and its hectic “Downtown”. Then the trip continued to Aqaba by the Red Sea, a visit to the beautiful desert Wadi Rum with an overnight stay in a Bedouin tent, to the ancient city of Petra, one of the world’s biggest attractions, to the Crusader castles in Shobak and Karak, a visit to the beautiful mountain village Dana, to the Dead Sea whose surface is 400 meters below sea level, Bethany beyond the Jordan where Jesus was baptized, to the city of Madaba and Mount Nebo from where Moses could see into the “Promised Land”, to Jerash with its well-preserved Roman ruins, to the city of Ajloun with its well-preserved castle and Mar Elias where the prophet Isaiah was born etc. etc. During the trip I also experienced three rather dramatic events;

Jordan history in brief


250,000 Hunted human ancestors elephants with the help of simple tools in the Jordan Valley

100,000 The Red Sea is raised to form the Dead Sea and the Sea of ​​Tiberias


Hunters and gatherers, with their own flocks of goats, live near Petra in simple social forms

10,000 The simple windbreaks are replaced by round huts built of stone and wood. Wild seeds form the backbone of those crops


Some of the earth’s earliest settlements are formed near Jericho. The inhabitants tame, breed and cook native animal species


Some of the earth’s oldest sculptures (fertility symbols) are depicted in the Jordan Valley

5,000 The earliest stone chamber tombs are created near Ar-Rawdah


The first permanent settlements are established where today’s capital Amman is now located. Copper is mined in mines at Khirbet Feinan. The design of ceramic vessels shows influence from Egypt

2 900

In cities like Amman, Pella, Deir Alla and others, fortresses are built. Trade is developing with Syria, Palestine and Egypt

2,300 cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed

1 500

Egypt’s influence is diminishing. Palestinians settle in the area that will be named after them

1 200

The kingdoms of Ammon, Gilead, Moab, and Edom were founded. These were in constant conflict with the Kingdom of Israel.
Moses and the Israelites are denied access to the kingdom of Edom

850 The divided kingdom of Israel is defeated by Mesha king of Moab


The kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and Edom were united for a short time and were close to destroying the kingdom of Israel under the kings David and Solomon.

539 The Babylonians were defeated by the Persians and Trans-Jordan became part of the mighty Persian Empire


The invention of the camel saddle changes the lives of the Arab nomads and lays the foundation for new caravan routes to Damascus


Alexander the Great’s victory over the Persians brings the region under Greek colonization


The Nabataeans, an Arab nomadic people, conquered southern Jordan and made Petra their capital. They expanded north and their empire came to cover most of present-day Jordan and Syria


King Herod builds the fort at Mukawir. Here John the Baptist was later beheaded according to Salome’s wish

9 – 40 AD

King Aretas IV rules the Nabataean kingdom. He was the most powerful of all kings


26 Jesus was baptized in Bethany-Beyond-Jordan by John the Baptist


The world’s first Christian church was built in Rihab, 40 km from Amman. In it, 70 of Jesus’ followers sought refuge from persecution in Jerusalem


The Roman emperor Trajan conquers the Nabataean empire and conquers the city of Petra

111 – 114

The Romans build the road Nova Via Taiana. The road follows the route of the old “Kings Highway” between Bosra (in present-day Syria) and the Red Sea

200 – 300

The great period of the Romans. Under this, beautiful and impressive buildings are being built in various places. Emperor Hadrian visits the city of Jerash where a great triumphal arch was built in his honor. It can still be seen today


Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity. At his death, Christianity became the dominant religion in the Byzantine Empire and many churches were built


The Romans make peace with the Persians. Despite this, the Islamic religion continues to spread

629 Muslim forces lose the battle of Mu´tah against the Christian army

632 Prophet Muhammad dies


Muslim forces win the battle of Yarmouk and thus Islam becomes the region’s most important religion

700 The Syrian Umayyads conquer the region


A major earthquake hits the region and weakens the Umayyads, whose rule is replaced by the Abbasids’.


The Fatimids, an Egyptian dynasty, take control of Palestine, Jordan and southern Syria

1095 The Pope starts a holy war against the Muslims in revenge for the destruction of churches

1115 The Crusader King Baldwin begins building the castle in Shobak

1142 The Crusader castle in Karak begins to be built

1187 The Muslim leader Saladin defeats the Christian forces at the Battle of Hittin

1193 Saladin died


The Mongols, led by Genghis Khan, attack the Jordanian cities of Ajloun and Salt

1517 – 1916

The Turks conquer Syria and Jordan and the countries fall under Ottoman rule for four centuries

1812 The Swiss Burckhard rediscovers Petra

1917 The region was withdrawn during the First World War when Arab forces occupied the port city of Aqaba


With the help of the British military, the Turks were driven out of the region and they took control of the country. The British promised the Arabs independence after the war, but the promise was not fulfilled. Instead, the region was divided between Britain and France.


The current Jordan and the area west of the Jordan River, today Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, became the British mandate Palestine.


The British separated the area east of the Jordan River from the rest of Palestine and established the emirate of Transjordan

1925 Jordan got its current borders


The British reduced their control over the country to include only foreign policy and financial issues.
Jordan receives its first constitution and a Legislative Council was established.


Jordan becomes independent and is named the Hashimite Kingdom of Transjordan with Abdullah as king.


When the state of Israel was formed, Jordan and other Arab states attacked the country. The Jordanian forces conquered a large part of the area that, according to a UN resolution of 1947, would constitute a Palestinian state, namely the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Half a million Palestinians are fleeing to what is now known as the West Bank


The Transjordanian king Abdullah proclaimed himself king over all of Palestine, that is, Transjordan and the conquered territory. At the same time, the country changed its name to Jordan.

1950 King Abdullah annexes the West Bank and East Jerusalem

1951 King Abdullah is assassinated in Jerusalem. He is succeeded by his son Talal

1952 King Talal resigns and is replaced by his only 16-year-old son Hussein


After a coup attempt, martial law was introduced and all political parties were banned. After this, King Hussein ruled the country almost unilaterally


Egypt’s then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser took the initiative to form the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the only legitimate mouthpiece of the Palestinian people. The PLO was to be funded by the Arab League and to recruit soldiers for a Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA). King Hussein opposed the initiative by not allowing the PLO to levy taxes on Palestinians in Jordan or allowing the PLA to train in Jordanian territory.


Jordan lost the entire West Bank, including East Jerusalem to Israel in the so-called “Six Day War”. Between 150,000 and 250,000 Palestinian refugees sought refuge in Jordan

In 1969, the PLO was taken over by Palestinian guerrilla movements, led by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, and King Hussein’s authority was challenged. He was forced to balance between the country’s royalist groups and the growing demand for influence of the growing Palestinian population.


The PLO developed into a state within the state and the tension between the PLO and the Hussein regime turned into a civil war in September, “Black September”. The guerrillas were crushed in six months and its members were expelled. The rest of the Arab world reacted strongly to King Hussein’s actions


Just before the Arab-Israeli war in October, King Hussein had reconciled with the leaders of Egypt and Syria, and Jordan lined up with troops on Syria’s side.

1980 – 88

Jordan’s relations with Syria deteriorated during the war between Iran and Iraq because the country sided with Iraq in the war


King Hussein supports Palestinian insurgency, intifada, in the West Bank In 1987, a Palestinian insurgency, intifada, broke out in the West Bank

1988 King Hussein renounces all territorial claims on the West Bank


Violent riots broke out in several Jordanian cities after the government implemented sharp price increases in accordance with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, which led to the resignation of the government. The Muslim Brotherhood won 20 seats in the House of Representatives in the November election


Peace talks between Israel and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation begin. Later, these were carried directly between the PLO and Israel


After being banned for many years, political parties were allowed, with some exceptions


In November, the country’s first multi-party election was held. The Palestinians received only 14 of the government’s 80 seats, even though they made up more than half of the country’s population. For the first time in the country’s history, a woman, Toujan Feisal, succeeded in being elected to the Chamber of Deputies.

1994 Jordan and Israel sign a peace agreement


This year’s parliamentary elections were boycotted by several opposition parties. They protested against the electoral system that favored the regime, against the government’s policy towards Israel and against sharp restrictions on freedom of the press ahead of the election. The result was a parliament strongly dominated by loyal members of the government

1998 King Hussein, who was seriously ill with cancer, received periodic treatment in the United States for his illness


In February, King Hussein passed away. He had then been in power for 47 years, which was longer than any other leader in the Middle East. The eldest son, Abdullah, was appointed new king. Upon his accession, Abdullah carried out a series of democratic, administrative and economic reforms, including the abolition of censorship by the foreign press and the release of 500 prisoners. However, the change towards a more open society was short-lived, and later in the year the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas’ office in the country was closed. Several Hamas members were arrested and four senior leaders were deported to Qatar.

Jordan Brief History

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