At the Place of High Sacrifice in Petra, there are two obelisks on the top of a mountain. Apparently the obelisks were not erected on top of the mountain; the mountain was carved away to create the obelisks. Very impressive. But there was still a mystery. The rock around the obelisks had a series of narrow channels carved into it. Often channels carved into the rock in Petra were designed to control the flow of water, but that was clearly not the case here. It seemed a mystery, until today. The missing clue came from our visit to Um er-Rasas last weekend. While exploring there, we discovered an abandoned quarry, with blocks half carved out. You could clearly see how narrow channels were chiseled into the rock to create stone blocks. When I saw the narrow channels in the rock at Petra today, it suddenly hit me; this was a quarry. They didn’t carve away the mountain just to create the obelisks. They used the mountain as a convenient quarry for the Place of High Sacrifice, and quarried the stones in a way that left the Obelisks in place.
I’m not 100% sure this explanation is correct, but I’m pretty confident about it. But the most fascinating thing to me is that visiting archeological sites in Jordan gives you the opportunity to explore, to touch, and to investigate. It is a rare opportunity. Here are pictures of the obelisks, and the channels carved into the rock.