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French archaeologist highlights French-Jordanian cooperation in Jerash

By Sophie Constantin - Feb 19,2024 - Last updated at Feb 19,2024

The French team is working in May 2023 in Eastern Gerasa on a building that might be a house of a rich merchant. (Photo by Saeb Rawashdeh)

AMMAN — On Thursday 15th February, The Cultural Hub Bayt Yaish hosted a conference organised by The French Institute of the Near East (Ifpo) in partnership with ICOMOS Jordan. Titled “The Jordanian and French cooperation in Jerash: Past, Present and Future”, the event was featured by French scholar Julie Bonnéric. 

Since 40 years, archaeologists and architects from France and Jordan collaborated on various excavation and preservation projects in Jerash, located in northern Jordan. Their focus extended notably to the area of the temple of Zeus, the Southern gate, the water-powered sawmill and the Eastern bath. These joint efforts resulted in significant discoveries and extensive architectural reconstructions, transforming the landscape of Jerash and enhancing its allure to visitors. 

The teams primarily focused on the Roman period, although they also addressed earlier and later periods. Since 2022, this collaboration has evolved with the inception of the Eastern Jerash Project, which investigates and excavates a sizable courtyard residence situated in the city’s central area, east of the Cardo. This residence was devastated by the 749 AD earthquake, marking the conclusion of the Umayyad period. 

Additionally, a forthcoming two-year project (still pending for funding approval) from 2024 to 2026 aims to finalise the restoration of the Zeus Temple of Jerash by reconstructing its grand staircase. 

In her lecture, Julie Bonnéric, archaeologist, current researcher at the Ifpo and head of the Amman Branch (Jordan), presented these diverse projects, tracing the trajectory of past, present, and future bilateral cooperation in Jerash. 

Bonnéric specialises in the Early and Middle Islamic periods in the Middle East, with a focus on the religious and social transformations following the conquests. Her research interests extend to the Umayyad period in Northern Jordan, monasticism in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, and the question of senses’ history. Since 2022, she has been the director of the Jerash Eastern Project in Jordan and since 2014 the co-director of the French-Kuwaiti Archaeological Mission in Failaka. 


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