Arriving in the modern town of Jerash, with its provincial streets and small market gardens, you see little to suggest its illustrious past. But the moment you cross from the new town into the ancient city, its boundary marked by the imposing Hadrian’s Arch, it becomes apparent that this was once no ordinary backwater but a city of great wealth and importance.

While the Middle East contains other surviving Roman cities that boast similar architectural treasures, the ancient ruins at Jerash are famous for their remarkable state of preservation. Enough structures remain intact for archaeologists and historians, and even casual visitors, to piece together ancient life under the rule of an emperor.

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