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Petra: The Definitive Guide

Petra Monuments
Text from "Petra Book" by Jane Taylor

Sextius Florentinus Tomb View in Photo Gallery

Following the base of al-Khubtha towards the north-east, the path crosses the partially hidden remains of two lines of city wall. The inner one is the later, believed to have been built in the late-Roman/early-Byzantine period in the third to fourth centuries, when the city had diminished in both size and renown.

A short distance further on are the remains of the earlier wall, and just beyond this, facing due north, is the harmonious fašade of the Tomb of Sextius Florentinus, one of the few monuments in Petra whose date is certain. So, too, is the name of the original occupant who was, unusually, a Roman. A weathered inscription above the doorway dedicates the tomb to 'T. [A]ninius Sextius Florentinus... Legate of Augustus, Propraetor of Arabia, most dutiful father, in accordance with his own will.' It is known that Titus Aninius Sextius Florentinus was governor of the Province of Arabia in AD 127; and since by 130 he had been replaced by one Haterius Nepos, it is assumed that he died in office in Petra in 128/9. He must have loved the place to wish to be buried here.


Turkmanian Tomb View in Photo Gallery

Carved into the western wall of Wadi Turkmaniyya is the fašade of the Turkmaniyya Tomb, crowned by a monumental single crow-step. Though the tomb lacks a bottom half, its top half makes it unique for it contains the longest Nabataean inscription to have been found in Petra, still almost as crisp in outline as when it was new, and as full of holy threats.

First it lists the full extent of the site: two rock-cut chambers with grave holes, courtyard, benches, triclinium, water cisterns, rock walls and retaining walls. It then affirms these are 'sacred to Dushara, God and our Lord, his throne Harisa and all the gods, by acts of consecration as commanded therein. Dushara, his throne and all the gods watch over the acts of consecration so they will be observed and there will be no change...; and no one will be buried in this tomb except him who is authorised... according to the acts of consecration which are eternal.'

Tantalisingly, no king is named to help with the dating; but the style of the script is thought to be characteristic of Malichus II's time, or possibly later. What Turcoman gave his people's name to the tomb, and by extension to the valley, is equally unknown.