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The Garden as Status Symbol

In the desert, water is at once a bare necessity and the greatest of luxuries. Only the richest and most powerful cities could afford to devote scarce resources to an installation that consumes large quantities of water for non-practical purposes. As a result, water display functioned as a symbol of wealth, status, and power.

To establish and maintain a pleasure garden with a monumental pool in such an arid climate, the ancient Nabataeans managed to collect a surplus of water, enough to devote a sufficient quantity to recreational and ornamental uses. The Petra garden and pool complex, therefore, epitomizes Nabataean mastery over water and their use of water display to symbolize Petra's status as a flourishing Hellenistic city.