Amman – Jabok river - Umm Qays – Tell Mar Elias – Jerash – Amman
The Zarqa River is the second largest tributary of the lower Jordan River, after the Yarmouk River. It is the third-largest river in the region by annual discharge, and its watershed encompasses the most densely populated areas east of the Jordan River. It rises in springs near Amman and flows through a deep and broad valley (which is identified with the biblical Jabbok River) into the Jordan, at an elevation 1,090 meters (3,580 ft) lower. The river is heavily polluted and its restoration is one of the top priorities for the Jordanian Ministry of the Environment.
Geologically, the Zarqa river is about 30 million years old. At the river's origin is 'Ain Ghazal, a major archaeological site that dates back to the Neolithic period. Archeological finds along the course of the river indicate the area was rich in flora and fauna in the past. The Zarqa river is well known for its amber deposits that date back to the Hauterivian of the lower Cretaceous (135 m.y.). Remarkable flora and fauna were reported from this amber, reflecting tropical paleoenvironmental prevailing conditions during the time of resin deposition (Kaddumi, 2005; 2007).
The site of the famous miracle of the Gadarene swine, Gadara, was renowned in its time as a cultural center. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of a rhetorical school in Rome; one poet called the city “a new Athens”. Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Umm Qays boasts an impressive colonnaded terrace and the ruins of two theatres. You can take in the sights and then dine on the terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view of three countries.
Tell Mar Elias
Tell Mar Elias is a mound consisting of several archaeological strata (a tell) in the Ajlun region of northern Jordan. The site, northwest of Ajlun, has long been identified with Tishbe, mentioned in the Bible as the hometown or region of the prophet Elijah (Elias or Eliya in Arabic). The remains of one of the largest known Byzantine churches in Jordan can be found at the site. Artifacts from this site, including marble carvings and small metal religious objects, are on display at the archaeological museum of the nearby Ajloun Castle
One of Jordan’s most stunning sites, the Roman-Byzantine city of Jerash was once one of the ten cities of the Decapolis. Much of the city still stands, giving visitors a clear idea of its former glory as they explore pillar-lined boulevards, public bath houses, the hippodrome, the ancient theatre, and temples.