A University of Cape Town research group has won a 30-month contract to digitally survey and map the fabled rock city of Petra, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan. A University of Cape Town research group has won a 30-month contract to digitally survey and map the fabled rock city of Petra, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan.Once a thriving centre of trade, Petra was the capital city of the Nabateans, a nomadic people whose empire rose to its peak between 400BC and AD100.The geologically fragile World Heritage Site was lost to the Western world for 17 centuries until 1812, when a Swiss traveller gained entry disguised as a Bedouin.Part of the city's mystique lies in its inaccessibility. Entrance to Petra is through the Siq ("crack"), a narrow slot canyon up to 120m high and 1,2km long."Much of the city has been destroyed by natural weathering and earthquakes," says the survey team leader, emeritus professor Heinz Rüther. "Using GPS [global positio...

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