The Jerash Roman army experience

The Roman legionIf you are residing in Jordan nowadays then make sure to take time out for a visit to the "Roman Army and Chariot Experience," a highly engaging historical show set in the Greco-Roman city of Jerash. It is a display of the long gone Jerasia-based Roman army, its weaponry and its battle techniques. The most impressive thing about this truly unique show is that it is performed by Jordanians — mostly Jerash residents — who were professionally trained to perform in the show twice a day every day of the week. According to Fawaz Zoubi, the general manager of the show, even the costumes were made locally, something I found very impressive, as they really did look quite authentic!

The show itself was entertaining, educational, and tremendously visual. It was also fascinating to see the performers speaking in Latin in front of a rapt audience. The show is definitely worth your time, although I think the entrance fee of five JD’s (20 JD for non-Jordanians) is a bit high. One thing I noticed was that the majority of the audience was foreigners. Unfortunately, there were very few Jordanians — even Arabs for that matter — among the attendees. Those in charge of the show should work on extensively advertising this unique experience to Jordanians and the Mideast and not restrict their outreach solely to tour agents.

Finishing him offThe centurionShields up

For more information on the show, make sure to check out their website:

11 thoughts on “The Jerash Roman army experience”

  1. I still haven’t seen this yet, but the real shame would be Jordanians not seeing it!
    I wish they would invite all the school children in Jordan for free, to get to see how people lived in the ruins that lie underneath all these new apartments. I’m still smouldering about the Roman Road lying underneath the newest building near us…for those of us with ‘wanna-be’ cultural heritages, it is a crime to build a monstrosity over a 2,000 year old architectural find .

  2. This is one of the stupidist ideas I have ever encountered in my life. Does any Jordanian know anything significant about the Roman Empire? For them its a show of odd costumes and topless men. I bet the actors themselves do not know anything about what on earth they are enacting!

  3. Amal, this is a standard practice in a number of countries around the world. Locals usually pay less than foreigners. I guess it a way of encouraging internal tourism.
    None, why the negative attitude?

  4. Two reasons for the tiered pricing: First, is like the wife said: They want to encourage locals to come. But in many cases, local taxes and local labor might also be contributing to the project, so it is only fair that locals have a discounted rate. If you are a tax-paying citizen of Jerash, why should you pay the same amount as someone from another country who only contributes to your community via their tourist expenditures? Second, they also recognize the simple reality that foreigners, many foreigners at least, can afford to pay more while the locals cannot. With a minimum wage still below 100JD, you cannot expect to charge a fee equivalent to 1/5th of the minimum salary to see such a show.
    In fact, I was often surprised to see some music concerts with ticket prices up near 100JD. That was a bit of social engineering I think. They didn’t want certain people there, but they did want others. Tourism, though, is all about generating income for the country/locality. It really only makes sense that tourists bare the brunt of it — hotel room prices, meals, trinkets, etc — it’s all meant to maximize the profit made from tourists. That’s the same the world over. The ticket tiers, which are very common in Jordan, are a fairly transparent attempt to do the two things above. I never minded it too much, though I was glad when I got tucked into the fold.

  5. I just think it’s odd….I mean, what about Arab back-packing students? Are they considered well-off tourists?

  6. Well, in many ways they just might be. I mean, if they had the money to get out of their respective country, then they are likely better off than some. And there are many from the Gulf that definitely do have the money to make things happen. Jordan and, unfortunately, many of its citizens are not the wealthiest in the ME. Although I’m sure there are individual cases where a backpacker from the ME doesn’t fit the profile, you have to make the rule to a general standard. That said, I do seem to remember a summer after 9/11 when they offered either a third tier rate for the ME or the same rate as Jordanians to encourage attendance. I thought it was smart. All of that said, I’m sure it is a fantastic show, but 20JD is just too much, no matter what your economic standing 🙂
    I remember talking with the owner of the Philadelphia movie theater in Jebbel Amman when they were struggling. I asked him why, since he was largely showing second run movies, he didn’t lower the ticket price to something more reasonable, like 1 or 2 JD, instead of the 5 JD he was charging. I explained he’d likely get 10-20 times the business easily making up for the lower ticket cost.
    He didn’t like the idea and for one of two reasons I think. First, I’m not sure he “got” the economic principle: that you can lower your profit margin and find a point where the increase in volume — the number of tickets sold — makes up for the lower profit per ticket. Your overall profit is higher, even though the ticket is cheaper. Second, I sensed a societal barrier: that a movie ticket shouldn’t be so cheap that just anyone could buy one. I know there are cheap ticket theaters in Amman but I think they have a reputation that the Philly owner wasn’t interested in challenging. I’ve wondered ever since if some of the price points for things in Jordan are selected for just such a purpose — not economic, but social — setting a bar there to keep out the 7afartali. Last I knew, the Philly closed and that’s a real shame. I liked the place a lot.

  7. I think in most touristic places there is a price for Jordanians, another for Arabs + Students, and a third for tourists, at least that was the case in Petra last time I went.

  8. Oh, i’ve been there on the 20th.. hehehe me and my lebanese/american friends said we’re jordanians and paid 2 JD each hehehe but was totally worth it, i’m posting like 50 pics i took with my friends, check my blog to get them
    and i like your blog, ur listed 🙂

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