More than two thousand years ago, the thriving city of Petra rose up in the bone-dry desert of what is now Jordan. An oasis of culture and abundance, the city was built by wealthy merchants whose camel caravans transported incense and spices across hundreds of miles from the Arabian Gulf. They carved spectacular temple-tombs into its soaring cliffs, raised a monumental Great Temple at its heart, and devised an ingenious system that channeled water to vineyards, bathhouses, fountains, and pools. But following a catastrophic earthquake and a slump in its desert trade routes, Petra's unique culture faded and was lost to most of the world for nearly a thousand years. Now, in a daring experiment, an archaeologist and sculptors team up to carve an iconic temple-tomb to find out how the ancient people of Petra built their city of stone. And beyond Petra's city of the dead, scientists using remote sensors and hydraulic flumes discover a city of the living-complete with a water system that not only supplied 30,000 people with enough to drink, but also filled bathhouses, fountains, and pools with such abundance that some scholars believe this desert metropolis may have been the Las Vegas of the ancient world. The race is on to discover how these nomads created this oasis of culture in one of the harshest climates on earth, and ultimately, why Petra disappeared.