Photo by Jane Taylor/Sonia Halliday Photographs

As in ancient times, a Bedouin rides his camel down the Colonnaded Street of Petra, in Jordan. This paved thoroughfare once ran through the heart of the city’s commercial district. In the background of the photo loom the facades of the city’s first-century A.D. rock-hewn Royal Tombs, perhaps burial chambers for ancient Nabataean kings. In “When People Lived at Petra,” Joseph J. Basile looks back through the millennia to a time when this desert city thrived as the center of a vast perfume and spice trade.