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Antiquities department needs public support in mission to conserve heritage, director says

By Dana Al Emam - Feb 01,2017 - Last updated at Feb 01,2017

Um Qais, 90km north of Amman, is one of many archaeological sites around Jordan that the Department of Antiquities seeks to conserve (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — In addition to authorities’ efforts to conserve antiquities and archaeological sites, public awareness and people’s commitment to conservation remain essential, an official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a media roundtable, Monther Jamhawi, director general of the Department of Antiquities (DoA), stressed people’s “ethical and religious” commitment to preserving archaeological and historic heritage as a complementary role of the department, which already “has a lot on its plate”.

The DoA’s annual budget is JD9 million, including JD1.2 million allocated to the Jordan Museum and JD300,000 for the Madaba Mosaic Institute, Jamhawi said, adding that land purchases has its fair share of spending as well.

The DoA has so far spent JD950,000 for land ownership purposes, whereby the department has bought a total of 277,000 dunums of 1,132 pieces of land with archaeological value. 

He highlighted that current expenditures comprise a substantial part of the department’s budget, yet archaeological missions of Jordanian universities and international research centres and institutions are of great help to the DoA. 

“The department issues over 70 permits annually for international archaeological missions for durations of three to eight weeks that include scanning, excavation, restoration, documentation or conducting studies. These missions engage Jordanian archaeologists,” Jamhawi explained.

The department has worked on several projects during 2016 in a bid to uncover ruins at several archaeological and historical sites and boost the sector in general.

Other efforts involve working to draft a new law that governs the DoA’s work, as the current one does not allow for partnerships with the private sector or accepting grants.

Another milestone is the plan to establish a 6,000-square-metre centre for research, studies and storage of archaeological artefacts in Amman, with underground storage rooms and roof gardens, said Jamhawi.

He added that the department is planning to float the tender next month in order for implementation to start. 

By the end of March this year, the department will finish restoration of Aqaba Castle and open it to evening cultural activities, in partnership with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.


Another project, which will be carried out with Japanese and German support, seeks to restore an auditorium in Um Qais to enable it to host an annual cultural festival. Work on this project is expected to be completed in two years, according to the DoA.

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