Photo courtesy of Jaako Frösén

The 152 burnt black scrolls and scroll fragments that make up the petra papyri appear to have been part of the private archive of the archdeacon of the Church of St. Mary. Legal and economic documents dating from 537 to 592 A.D., the scrolls describe landholdings and business transactions both in and around Petra. The remarkable assortment of people and places named in the documents has convinced most scholars that Petra was not completely abandoned after earthquakes in the mid-forth and sixth centuries A.D.