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Workshop explains Aphrodite statues found in Petra

By Saeb Rawashdeh - May 08,2023 - Last updated at May 08,2023

Broken remains of Aphrodite statues found in Petra (Photo courtesy of Megan Perry)

AMMAN — Two marble sculptures of Aphrodite were found in the building in Petra one metre above the floor level, said Professor Megan Perry from East Carolina University at the workshop “The Petra Aphrodite – Al Uzza Conservation Collaborative” organised last week at American Centre of Research (ACOR).

“We found more than just torso, we found legs,” Perry noted. She added that coins were also discovered near the statues, in addition to five domestic structures which were excavated along with eight tombs during the project’s three field seasons.

Objects were preserved in buckets of sand, Perry said, adding that Aphrodite statues may have been damaged during one of the earthquakes in the late antiquities and no one was interested in repairing them.

Aphrodite statues found in Petra are a fine example of Greco-Roman art, noted Mark Abbe from the University of Georgia, adding that they replicate the most famous and influential statue of the Greek antiquity Aphrodite of Knidos, carved by the sculptor Praxiteles in the 4th century BC.

“There is limited evidence for the local production of the marble statues,” Abbe said, adding that both were probably imported into Petra in the 1st or 2nd century AD. The hair of the sculpture preserves colour which was part of decoration, Abbe said.

Talking about increasing awareness about monuments in general, particularly those recently excavated, Fatma Marii from the University of Jordan emphasised the importance of preservation of two sculptures and how to keep them in safe condition.

“If conservators don’t pay attention to storing the object, damage may occur,” Marii said.

She said that objects should be held with gloves and conservation material should be taken into consideration and therefore the temperature and humidity should be taken care of.

The workshop was attended by Director General of the Department of Antiquities (DoA) Fadi Bala’awi who highlighted a fruitful collaboration between the DoA and the Petra North Ridge Project, adding that funding organisations generously helped conservation works.

“We are very happy with the partnership that we have with ACOR,” Bala’awi said, noting that such a collaboration will definitely continue in the future.

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