The name “Treasury” is not Nabatean, and derives from the local name for such a seemingly inexplicable construction – Khaznet al-Faraoun (“Treasury of the Pharaoh”). Unaware of classical history, and unable to fathom why anyone should carve such a monument, the bedouin tagged it as the work of the pharaoh, lord of black magic. In pursuit of the Israelites after the Exodus (the legend goes), the pharaoh was slowed down by having to carry all his treasure, so he created the Treasury and deposited his riches in the urn at the very top of the facade, out of human reach. For centuries after Petra’s abandonment, bedouin marksmen tried to shatter the urn, and so release the treasure, but to no avail: their only success was in blasting chunks off the solid urn.

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