Amman [key], city (1997 est. pop. 1,415,000), capital of Jordan, N central Jordan, on the Jabbok (Wadi Zerka) River. Jordan's largest city and industrial and commercial heart, it is also a transportation hub, especially for pilgrims en route to Mecca. Amman, which is built on a series of hills and valleys, is noted for its locally quarried colored marble. Industries include the manufacture of textiles, leather and leather goods, cement, marble, tiles, flour, and tobacco products. Nearly half of Jordan's industry is based in Amman. On a site occupied since prehistoric times, Amman is the biblical Rabbah, or Rabbath-Ammon, capital of the Ammonites. It was conquered by King David in the 11th cent. b.c. but regained independence under Solomon. The city was taken by Assyria in the 8th cent. b.c. and by Antiochus III c.218 b.c. Ptolemy II Philadelphus named it Philadelphia, by which it was known throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods. It belonged to the Decapolis, a commercial league of free cities organized in the 1st cent. b.c. It was also a leading city of Rome's Arabian provinces. After the Arab conquest of 635, the city, which then became known as Amman, experienced a steady decline; it was only a small village when Emir Abdullah (later King Abdullah I) made it the capital of newly created Transjordan in 1921. Growth was particularly rapid after World War II, when Amman absorbed Arab refugees from Palestine. The city's growth was further boosted by Lebanese refugees and capital in the 1970s, and by remittances from Jordanian and Palestinian workers in the Persian Gulf in the 1970s and 80s. The city is the site of the Univ. of Jordan (est. 1962) and a Muslim college. Historical monuments include a Roman amphitheater (1st cent. b.c.), remains of a temple that was probably built by Hercules, and some tombs and a section of wall that date to the 9th or 8th cent. b.c.
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