The second in the New Zealand Mints Forgotten Cities series of 1 oz silver coins launches on June 12th and following on from the debut coins look at Machu Picchu, this one heads off to Jordan in the Middle East to focus on the amazing ancient city of Petra. Petra, also called the Rose City after the stone into which it is carved, is famous for its rock-cut architecture and to a lesser extent. its water conduit system. Located in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an, it was established as early as 312 BCE as the capital city of the Nabataeans and was home to around 30,000 people at its peak,
Petra lies south of modern Amman on the edge of the mountainous desert of Wadi Araba, surrounded by towering hills of sandstone which gave the city some natural protection against invaders. It was for centuries the meeting point of the main routes used by camel caravans transporting spices between the Mediterranean and the Near East, Africa and India. Petra was first established around the 6th century BC by the Nabataean Arabs, a Semitic people who laid the foundations of a commercial empire that extended into Syria.
In AD 106 Trajan annexed the Nabataean Kingdom as part of the province of Arabia. The many earthquakes that hit Petra triggered a slow decline for the city, which was not halted by its designation as an Archiepiscopal See. The Arabs conquered the city in 636 but it remained distant from the pilgrim road to Mecca. The Crusaders constructed a fort there in the 12th century and Petra returned to its ancient splendour, but soon they withdrew, leaving Petra to the local people until the early 19th century, when it was visited by the Swiss explorer Burckhardt. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and was named amongst the New7Wonders of the World in 2007. (Source: UNESCO)
The coin is a clean-struck stylistic affair, nicely done, and packaged in the New Zealand Mints book-style box. Hidden within the packaging is the latitude and longitude of the next coin to be released in the series, which looks like it will launch later in 2015, so these aren’t an annual affair. We couldn’t make anything out from the images, but we’d guess the next one will be an Asian or a European city. If Machu Picchu is any indicator, this is another of those coins that look great in the hand and more impressive than in these images, especially as this kind of design really comes to life through the interplay of light and shadow. The whole is a great package and will make a fine collection overall. Selling at $85.00 USD, it’s priced around the norm for this spec of limited proof coin and apart from the mints own website, it will be available at the usual NZM dealers.