JORDAN is a country in the Near East bordered by Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia which was part of the Land of Canaan in ancient times. The country is named for the River Jordan which flows between modern-day Jordan and Israel and whose name means “to descend” or “flow downwards”. The region has a long history as an important trade center for every major empire from the ancient world to the present age (the Akkadian to the Ottoman empire) and numerous sites in the country are mentioned throughout the Bible.
Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 BCE) founded cities in the region (such as Gerasa) and the Nabateans carved their capital city of Petra there from sandstone cliffs. Early in its history the area attracted and inspired traders, artists, philosophers, craftsmen and, inevitably, conquerors all of whom have left their mark on the history of the modern-day country.