Wadi Faynan and the Archaeology of Jordan
Last weekend (on Saturday) I had the great privilege to go on a great trip to Wadi Faynan in Jordan. The trip was supposed to include a couple of friends living in Jordan, one from US and one from UK, but both fluent in Arabic. Unfortunately, our friend (Chris Dawson) from UK could not make it, so only two of us drove by the ‘Cities of the Plain’ east of the Dead Sea to our destination (about 3 hrs).
When we got close to Wadi Faynan we stopped in an Arab village and Mark (the friend from US married to a Jordanian) started to negotiate for a truck to take us to Khirbat en-Nahas and a few other places. After about 1 hour of searching and negotiations we found just the right person and truck (a Toyota 4×4) to take us there. Our rental, given the difficult terrain, had no chance to make it that far.
This was a great trip with great people. The driver (Abu Mustafa – I recommend him to anybody who wants to visit that area) was excellent and took us everywhere we needed to go; and Mark was a great guide and photographer. Mark spent some serious time on Google Earth to see exactly where the sites were, so he was totally prepared.
We visited first Khirbat al Jariya – an ancient copper-mining site in what was once Edom. It was great to have the time (no large group waiting for us) to walk around the tell and take pictures from all possible angles. The site was covered in slag and some pottery was visible as one walked around the tell. I did take some pics of pottery that seemed very similar to the one that is found on the other side of Jordan (when I have some time I may post these pics for comparison).
Next stop was even more impressive. It was the even larger copper-mining site of Khirbat en-Nahas. This site has been excavated for some time by Thomas Levy from UCSD. He recently dated copper production here to the 10th century BC. The site was indeed impressive, and his excavation is visible in several places on the site (there was a lot less excavation at Jariya).
After a quick stop at EL Furn (and surroundings) and Khirbat Feynan, we were able to get back to our car in time to make it to Amman before the car rental place closed. This was a great trip.
It was amazing to be able to see all of these copper related sites at a leisurely pace, and to admire the nature and people from that region. I hope to post some pictures in the future.
The trip also motivated me to read a bit on Levy’s publications. While I was once very close to return to UCSD for a PhD (one that would most likely have included some work with Levy as an Archaeology minor), I have not followed the excavations in the Wadi Fidan very closely. But then again – I have not followed most developments in archaeology very closely in the last 5 years (my last excavation in Israel – excepting the one at Dan interrupted by the war of 2006 – was around 2001-?). Being here in Jordan, and having the chance to see again many of the sites (includind those from Israel in December) , has brought back some of the old ‘lovin feeling’ for archaeology. Who knows, maybe I will join an excavation again, hopefully with students from TTGST! Jordan and the sites here are certainly worth exploring. And it is less crowded than Israel. SHALOM!