The Umm el-Jimal Project and Mayor Hassan Al-Rabaiheh welcomed U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice G. Wells on a tour of the ancient site to celebrate the successful conclusion of our 2014 grant project from the U.S. State Department Cultural Heritage Center’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation program. Attendees included the ambassador’s and mayor’s teams, dignitaries from the municipality of Umm el-Jimal and northern Jordan, the UJ15 field staff, other friends of the community, and Jordanian media. After a site tour hosted by project director Dr. Bert de Vries, a visit to the recently-refurbished municipal offices, and a presentation of gifts from the Umm el-Jimal Women’s Cooperative, we adjourned to the mayor’s nearby home for a wonderful traditional dinner of mensaf and fresh fruit.
The 2012 and 2014 AFCP grants have formed a firm foundation for the site’s longterm physical conservation strategy. The project resulted not only in the consolidation and preservation of the endangered House XVII-XVIII Complex—one of the key monumental structures of ancient Umm el-Jimal, but developed a set of best practices to be applied site-wide. Perhaps most importantly, in doing so the program helped several dozen Umm el-Jimal community members develop into a core team of skilled conservation professionals crucial for the site’s long-term care and maintenance. As an employment opportunity in a municipality continuing to grapple with economic uncertainty, AFCP funding therefore had a direct impact in the lives of dozens of local families. And as an international collaboration, this community-centric approach to archaeology continues to strengthen ties among Umm el-Jimal’s residents, scholars from Jordan and abroad, and the site itself.
In addition to the overview video above, which contains some cool before-and-after shots of the 2014 phase of work, you can check out the Umm el-Jimal website’s Conservation page for more videos about the AFCP grants, the House XVII-XVIII page for a slideshow about the structure, or the photos below for a few shots from today’s event.
Thanks again to Ambassador Wells and her crew (especially Ragany and Reem!), Mayor Hassan, the AFCP program, and the entire project team for their support.
Photography by Paul Christians and Jeff DeKock, Open Hand Studios.