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Webinar highlights ACOR’s archaeological restoration projects in Jordan

By Saeb Rawashdeh - Mar 14,2021 - Last updated at Mar 14,2021

The interior of the Petra Church, a Byzantine style church built in second part of 5th century AD (Photo by Saeb Rawashdeh)

AMMAN — The role of American Centre of Research (ACOR) in Amman in “salvaging the Jordanian cultural heritage” took centre stage during a recent webinar.

During the webinar titled “The Role of American Centre of Research in Preserving Jordan’s Heritage”, organised by the American Research Institute in Turkey, Barbara Porter, a former director of ACOR, said that the Department of Antiquities launched the Jordanian Antiquities Data and Information System in the 1990s with the aim of preserving the Jordanian cultural heritage.

She highlighted ACOR’s role in restoring various archaeological sites in Jordan.

ACOR’s was involved in the restoration of the Roman Hercules Temple on the Amman Citadel in 1991-1993, Porter said.

“The department also did a project in Madaba Archaeological Park and produced a book in 1996,” Porter said, adding that ACOR launched its major publication “Mosaics of Madaba” in 1993, authored by the late Michele Piccirillo and edited by Patricia Bikai and Thomas Dailey.

Furthermore, ACOR gave special importance to Petra, Porter continued. She referred to the role of her predecessor Pierre Bikai, who was the director of the Petra Church Project, which dealt with remains of the 5th century AD temple, carried out in 1998.

At the Petra Church, the team found a 2nd century AD marble vase with panther handles among many other artifacts, she said, adding that the vase had 180 fragments that had to be assembled. The vase became the official logo of ACOR, representing its role in the conservation of cultural heritage, she added.

“Another major discovery in the Petra Church were scrolls found in December 1993,” Porter said, and the team from the Helsinki University lead by Jaako Frosen worked on restoration of Petra papyri, which originate from 6th century AD.

“Scholars Patricia and Pierre Bikai decided to restore four columns of the Byzantine church,” in the vicinity of the Petra Church, Porter said.

Moreover, archaeologists Thomas Parker and Megan Perry, who run the Petra Northern Ridge Project, discovered pieces of two Aphrodite in 2016. In 2018, a conservator Michael Morris restored sculptures of Aphrodite.

Located on the same hill with the Petra Church, the Temple of the Winged Lions was discovered by American archaeologist Phillip Hammond. It is focused on site conservation, community employment, training and educational awareness, Porter elaborated.

She added that the last initiative was the Bayt Ras Tomb Project in Irbid, a hypogeum (an underground tomb or temple) from the Roman period, which is directed by a USAID SCHEP.

“Nowadays archaeology and heritage management in Jordan have to be collaborative efforts, both in terms of expertise and money, and I’m happy that ACOR was able to help preserve Bayt Ras Tomb,” Porter said.

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