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SCHEP Hands on Activities

 

 

Um Al Jimal

History:

 

Located just south of the Syrian border, the ancient city of Umm al-Jimal is known for its the signature black basalt stone. Inscriptions found at the site span five languages: Arabic, Greek, Latin, Nabataean, and Safaitic, showing the rich and diverse groups who have inhabited it.

 

 

Paleolithic hunter-gatherers laid traps in the area, and after the domestication of animals, nomads would graze their herds in the area. The first recorded settlement was of these same nomadic Arab peoples hosting Nabataean trade caravans who used Um al-Jimal as a stop in their routes between Petra and Damascus. Although few structures from this period remain, excavation teams have found inscriptions on stones that were reused by later inhabitants.

When Roman powers came to occupy the area in the second century CE, they constructed military fortifications and used the city as part of Limes Arabicus, the line of garrisoned forts that protected the Roman province of Arabia. The castellum (watch tower), Great Reservoir, praetorium (emperor or general’s residence), temple, and other structures that still stand today can be traced back to the time of Diocletian and Constantine.

By the fifth or sixth century CE, the town was a prosperous Byzantine hub that was home to more than 6,000 people, marking its transition to a primarily civilian population. It was also during this period that many residents converted to Christianity, explaining the remains of fifteen churches and other Christian symbols that can be found at the site today. After the Muslim conquest, the agricultural community continued to prosper, and additional buildings were constructed at Umm al-Jimal.

Tragedy struck in 749 CE when an earthquake rocked the town of Umm al-Jimal. This combined with a pandemic, drought, and the shift of the seat of political power to Baghdad from Damascus, led to the gradual depopulation and eventual abandonment of the city during the ninth century CE. As urban living fell out of favor, the nomadic economy that existed before the Nabataean settlement returned.

For more than one thousand years, the city lay deserted, the basalt masonry remaining largely unperturbed by the passage of time. In the early 20th century, Druze fleeing persecution in Syria and Lebanon arrived in the area reconstructing the existing buildings, where they lived until 1932 when the modern border between Syria and Jordan cut their access to Jebal Druze. After the Druze departed, Arab Bedouin settled in the area.

Recomended Itinary

 

 8:00

Departure from Amman

10:30

Arrival and breakfast at local house

11:30

Um Al Jimmal site tour

14:30

Local lunch at local house

15:30

Interactive basalt carving activity

17:00

Departure from Um Al Jimal

For more information, please contact

 

Busayra

 

 

History:

 

Scholars widely consider Busayara to be the capital city of ancient Edom, a kingdom that emerged in southwest Jordan during the early first millennium BCE. Edommites rose to prominence alongside other Levantine powers such as the Moabites and Israelites. Despite the kingdom and its neighbours falling under the sway of successive empires – the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Achaemenid Persians – Busayra continued to prosper and maintained economic links with Arabia, the Levant, and Egypt. 
 

British archaeologist, Crystal Bennet, excavated at Busayra between 1971 and 1980, discovering a monumental building and a substantial fortification system associated with the Kingdom’s administration. Some of the most impressive of these features include a 1,500 square meter palace and a temple larger than 2,320 square meters.

Recomended Itinary

 

8:00

Departure from Amman

10:00

Arrival to visitor center for breakfast

10:30

Start the hike to head to the archeological site

14:30

Arrival to site

15:00

Lunch at the eco lodge

16:00

Departure from Busayra

For more information, please contact

 

 

Ghawr Al Safi

 

 

History:

 

The area around Ghawr as-Safi is rich with history, as mentions of the area under various names abound in numerous texts and records. 

In the Old Testament, it is known as Zoara, one of the Old Testiment as one of the ‘cities of the plain’ that was not destroyed by fire and brimstone. In the nearby mountains lies the Monastery at Deir Ain Abata, also known as Lot’s cave. According to Biblical tradition, Lot and his family fled God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when his wife was turned to a pillar of salt for her lack of obedience to God. 

   The area is also pictured on the Madaba. The map depicts a fortified city surrounded by palms, signifying the area’s agricultural and commercial importance. Records from the Fatimid period compare Ghawr as-Safi, then named Zhughar, to Busra and Damascus, in terms of economic significance. 
 

Sugar production dominated the area’s economy from the 11th to15th century, an industry that demanded tremendous technology and tools. This gave rise to the ancient Tawahin as-Sukkar or Sugar Mill, which lies at the heart of USAID SCHEP’s work in the area. The historic stone mill gives great insight into the technology of the time- revealing an elaborate system of extracting, purifying, and storing sugar from sugar canes. The site shows that Ghawr as-Safi was the center of the sugar industry, and that sugar was then sold across the entire Mediterranean region.

Recomended Itinary

 

8:00

Bus Departs from Amman

10:00

Arrival to Safi Kitchen for Breakfast

11:00

Vegetable picking

11:30

Head back to Safi Kitchen for cooking

13:30

Lunch

14:30

Visit the Archeological Sugar Cane Mill

15:30

Depart from Ghawr Al Safi

For more information, please contact

 

 

Petra (Temple of the Winged Lion)

 

 

History:

 

 

Nestled amid the sandstone valleys and cliffs of southern Jordan, the Nabataeans built Petra as their capital more than 2,000 years ago. This nomadic group were traders of frankincense and myrrh, whose kingdom spanned from Damascus to modern day Saudi Arabia. The Nabataeans ruled over the area for several centuries before eventually being annexed by the Roman Empire in 106 A.D.

At the heart of the ancient capital lies a wide, half-mile long colonnaded boulevard. Surrounding this artery were the key institutions and monuments that facilitated daily life in the bustling metropolis. These include the remnants of luxurious pools and gardens, an elegant fountain, and a grand royal audience hall.

At the end of this main street is Petra’s “Sacred Quarter,” which features two large temples. The first is Qasr al-Bint, a well-preserved state shrine to the chief Nabataean god Dushara. The second is the Temple of the Winged Lions, built to honor the goddess al-Uzza.

The Temple of the Winged Lions is a large sacred complex with an ascending staircase, a grand entrance flanked by columns, and an inner cultic chamber with a raised podium. While most of the columns had Corinthian-style capitals, the dozen columns surrounding the main podium were adorned with the unique “winged lion” capitals that give the monument its name.

The temple’s spiritual focus was likely a statue or an unadorned standing stone, representative of the goddess al-Uzza, that was set atop the podium and around which priests and devotees would circle. The walls and columns of the temple’s inner sanctum were brightly painted with floral and figurative designs, while small recesses and niches surrounding the podium held offerings and idols emblematic of the goddess. Thought to have been built by the Nabataeans during the first century A.D., the temple continued to thrive well into the Roman period and only fell out of use following the devastating earthquake that struck Petra in A.D. 363.

Recomended Itinary

 

8:00

Bus Departs from Amman

11:00

Arrival and start site visit

12:00

Archaeological experience at the Temple of the Winged Lion

14:30

Lunch at the Basin restaurant

15:30

Depart with bus through the back road and on to Amman

For more information please contact

 

 

 

Did You KNOW

JITOA actively lobby for sector advocacy issues to provide a better business environment, while we helped in the negotiations process with the Tourism Ministry and governmental officials to exempt sales tax fees on travel packages to Jordan.

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