New preserve saves ancient tombs from destruction

21-12-2010 12:00 AM

Ammon News - By Taylor Luck/ The Jordan Times

AMMAN - Hundreds of millennial tombs have been spared destruction with the formation of a new archaeological preserve in the Jordan Valley.

According to the Department of Antiquities (DoA), a new protected area has been declared in the Damiya dolmen fields, an area home to hundreds of megalithic structures dating back to 3000BC that has been under mining operations.

According to DoA Director General Ziad Saad, a deal was reached with the mining company last month to set aside a 600 dunnum area in the northern part of the field which contains most of the dolmens for preservation as a national archaeological park.

Under the agreement, 23 dolmens that remain within the mining concession area will be relocated to the protective zone, which was recently registered as an archaeological site and as DoA property.

“We have made a big step in securing the area and preserving these important cultural and archaeological artefacts,” Saad told The Jordan Times in an interview on Monday, adding that the protected area will soon be fenced off as a “dolmen national park”.

Signage and interpretation will be installed to provide visitors with information on the megalithic structures and indicate which dolmens were artificially relocated, he added, noting that two additional dolmens will be relocated to the Jordan Museum for display

Dolmens are Early Bronze Age (3600-3000BC) megalithic structures, which, according to some, experts, may date back to the Chalcolithic period, around 4500-3500BC.

Although their exact usage is in dispute, many believe the sandstone and travertine dolmens were once used as burial chambers and for cultic rituals.

The average dolmen in Jordan is around three metres long, one metre high and one metre wide, although some reach up to seven metres in length, according to various surveys.

Between 250-300 dolmens are located in the Damiyah Dolmen Field, which had been placed on a World Monuments Fund watchlist in 2009 and again in 2010. The Damiya Dolmen Archaeological Park is expected to be opened to visitors some time next year.

* Damiya dolmen fields were previously threatened by mining activities in the area, which lies in the Jordan Valley (Photo courtesy of the World Monument Fund)

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