History of Jordan

A crossroads of paths and cultures to the current State

Jordan, as we know it today, is a very recent State, since its creation took place in the mid-twentieth century, as a result of the reorganization of the geopolitical chessboard in the area after the Second World War. However, that does not mean, far from it, that it does not have History: Jordan can boast of having hosted some of the most fascinating civilizations and the most iconic characters of the past.

Today’s tourism is based, to a large extent, on the rediscovery of all this. That is why we dedicate here a page to the history of Jordan. Knowing it will help you to understand much better what your eyes will see during your trip and to value the merit of its conservation in our days.

Table of Contents

Main periods of Jordanian history

Below we explain in depth all the periods of the history of Jordan. But you will also find it useful to know them at a glance, with their corresponding dates to ‘order’ in your mind all the historical information that we show you below and that the guides will tell you during your trip.

10000-4000 BC

First settlements in the Fertile Crescent. The region is a precursor in the Neolithic, with activities such as the breeding and domestication of animals, as well as their use in the diet. Ain Ghazal, near Amman, is one such settlement, around 8,000 BC.

4000 BC-IV century BC

The territory of present-day Jordan lacks political and social unity. There are three main kingdoms: Edom in the south, Moab in the center (Wadi Mujib Valley) and Ammon in the north (with capital in present-day Amman). Different nomadic and foreign peoples transit and set their eyes here, such as the Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians or Persians. Also the Israelites and, in fact, many of the details of the history of Jordan in this period we know them by mentions in the Bible.

Third century BC-105 AD

The Nabataeans settled in Petra, taking refuge from the Seleucid (Hellenistic) kings. They enjoy a certain autonomy, developing a flourishing trade, under the watchful eye of the permissive Greeks first, and the most influential Romans, later, who controlled the north of present-day Jordan: some of their cities were part of the Roman Decapolis. The main monuments of Petra are built. The main Christian events occur in Jordanian territory, such as the Baptism of Christ in 26 AD or the beheading of St. John the Baptist at the hands of Salome.

105 A.D.-IV century

The Romans annexed this territory as a province and called it Arabia Petra, with its capital in Petra, in the time of Emperor Hadrian. The so-called ‘golden age’ of Roman Arabia begins, as witnessed by the monuments of Jerash.

IV-VII centuries

Consolidation and triumph of Christianity, first in the times of the ‘united’ Roman Empire and then in the times of its successor, the Byzantine Empire, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Some places become part of pilgrimage routes, such as Madaba, as evidenced by its extraordinary mosaic of the map.

Mid-seventh century

Key moment in Jordan’s history by the rise of Islam and the Arab conquest of the entire region. Domination first of the Umayyads and then of the Abbasids. The lineage of present-day kings (Hashemites) is related to Muhammad through one of his great-grandfathers, and his tribe was a rival of the Umayyads.

XII century

Control of territory by the European crusaders of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, spurred on by the ‘holy war’ decreed by Pope Urban II. Castles are built of which there are still remains, such as Karak.


Restitution and consolidation of Arab domination of the territory, by the Ayyubids of Saladin, first, and the Egyptian Mamluks later (1258), who become strong after repelling the attempts of Mongol conquest.


The Ottoman Empire imposes its influence on that of the Iranian Safavid Empire and remains as dominator of the territory. Gradually, from the nineteenth century, what we know today as Jordan is arousing more and more interest among the European powers, while the crisis of the Ottoman Empire is accentuated.


Period of British protectorate. Birth of a new Arab nationalism after the First World War and delimitation of Transjordan east of the Jordan River, which is largely the territory of present-day Jordan. On the other side was Palestine, which encompassed what is now Israel and the West Bank, roughly.

1946-late twentieth century

Another key moment in Jordan’s history for its proclamation as an independent state after World War II, in the form of a monarchy (Hashemite). Period marked by the creation of the state of Israel on the other side of the Jordan River and regional conflicts, unleashing massive movements of refugees into Jordanian territory.


Period of the history of Jordan in which we are immersed. It begins with the signing of the peace treaty with Israel. Since then, Jordan has sought to play a mediating role between Israel and the Arab countries of the region, as well as between them and the United States and the West.

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