By Tim Lambert

Early Jordan

Before 8,000 BC stone age hunters lived in what is now Jordan. However by about 8,000 BC people in the region began farming although they still used stone tools. People began to live in villages. By about 5,000 BC people in Jordan were making pottery. By 4,000 BC they smelted copper and about 3,200 BC they learned to make tools of bronze. During the bronze age many people in Jordan lived in fortified towns. At that time there was a great trade between Egypt and Iraq. So trade routes passed through Jordan.

After 1,500 BC Jordan was divided into highly organised kingdoms. The most important were Moab, Edom and Amon. Then after 500 BC Arabs called the Nabateans migrated to Jordan. They developed a rich kingdom based on the trade routes through the area. Their capital was at Petra. Rome became the new power in the Middle East. At first the Nabateans kept their independence. However in 106 AD they were absorbed into the Roman Empire.

Under Roman rule Jordan continued to flourish and Christianity spread. However the Roman Empire split in two and Jordan became part of the Eastern part, known as the Byzantine Empire.

However in the 7th century Jordan was conquered by Muslims and became part of the Islamic World. For centuries Jordan continued its traditional role of being a trade route between other areas. Then in 1516 it became part of the Turkish Empire. For centuries Jordan changed little. However in the late 19th century Muslims from the Russian Empire arrived in the area, fleeing persecution. In 1908 the Hejaz railway was built from Damascus to Medina. When the First World War began in 1914 the Turkish Empire joined the German side.

Modern Jordan

At that time Arab nationalism was growing, encouraged by the British. In June 1916 a rebellion, The Great Arab Revolt began. Finally in 1918 Turkey was defeated by the allies. However Jordan was not allowed to become independent. In 1921 it was made a British mandate. Abdullah was made emir. However Jordan finally became independent in 1946 and Abdullah became king.

However King Abdullah was assassinated in 1951. He was replaced by his son Talal. However in 1952 he was followed by Hussein. During the 1960s and 1970s economic growth took place in Jordan. Martial law was declared in 1967 but elections were held in 1989. further elections were held in 1993. In 1994 Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah II became king of Jordan in 1999. Today Jordan faces economic challenges such as poverty and unemployment however Jordan has great potential for tourism. Today the population of Jordan is 8.1 million.

A brief history of Egypt

A brief history of Turkey

A brief history of Cyprus

A brief history of Oman

Visit Jordan


Last revised 2016