Dhiban Excavation and Development Project


Life and work from a tell site in Jordan

More Impressions of Jordan

From Sara:

Hello all,
Once again I am inspired to write by the weekend going ons.  First of all, while I recognize that imperialism is generally very bad and that many people suffered from it, as they say every cloud has a silver lining and I find my self grateful to the British for two things.  First of all English is the language to speak.  Even in an out of the way place like Dhiban many people have a smattering of English which combined with my very small bit of Arabic (perhaps 20 words and phrases) we manage to establish a rapport.  It is exhausting, but well worth the effort to try to communicate.  The second thing I’m grateful for is that you can find Galaxy bars in almost any former British colony.  (The US is an obvious exception to this rule and suffers for it I believe;  our average chocolate bar is clearly inferior.)  And now that I’m thinking about it, I find myself grateful to the British for another thing, when the former colonies gained independence the right side of the road was chosen to be the correct side to drive upon.  (Actually I’m not sure if this is attributable to rejection of British rule but for the purposes of this blog I’ll say that it is.)  Driving in Jordan would be much more harrowing if I had to remember to drive on the left in addition to watching for goats, tractors, other vehicles, pedestrians, random cinderblocks, construction, etc.  Speaking of construction, I neglected to mention  this in my earlier commentary on Jordanian driving, but construction does not block the roads here.  One simply shares the road, in whatever state of completion it is in with the construction equipment.  It has been suggested by one of the team members that Jordanian Driving would be a great video game.
On a more serious note I want to comment on the environment.  This weekend in addition to visiting some of the Desert Castles we visited the Azraq Oasis, which once upon a time (ie up until the 1960s) was a huge wetland supporting many now endangered species.  Unfortunately, much of the water has been pumped out to supply the cities of Jordan and now only about 10% of the wetlands remain.  The 10% which remains is supported by government donations of 1.5 million liters (I’m not sure on the units there).  To see the lush green grass, the fish and the birds in the middle of an incredibly arid area was so wonderful, not to mention also the role such areas play in water purification and oxygen production, but how long will the government be able to support even 10% with a growing population, refuges and new projects like luxury hotels which steal water like sponges to also deal with.  Most of the springs were dead indicating that the aquifer beneath them is dry.  It takes eons to fill an aquifer and so like many of the resources we rely on, aquifers can be considered non-renewable, at least not in this lifetime.  This leads me to reflect on how my lifestyle conflicts with the health of the planet.  Eating meat and imported fruits  requires much more water and energy resources than  locally produced foods and a vegetarian diet.  And yet I still love my bananas and steak even though I know the damage their production causes the world.  I’m not planning on going cold turkey on these things, but in the future I will be more mindful of the true cost of my food.  But then I wonder about the cost of not purchasing that banana.  Hypothetically, if all of America stopped eating bananas because banana plantains were replacing the rainforest and so much energy was expended in transporting them what would the effect on the countries who grow bananas be?  Would their economies be seriously damaged, would ordinary people suffer?  Clearly there is much to investigate  here and I obviously don’t have very many answers, but I put this before you in the hopes that with many minds on the subject progress may be made.
And now for something completely different.  Several weeks ago I mentioned that the girls of the dig were invited to a wedding celebration and promised to write about it.  I’m sorry for the delay but here it is now, if a bit delayed.  So as far as I understand, Jordanian weddings are made up of several different parts.  I don’t know what the other parts are so I will not try to explain them all, just the bit I saw.   Anyway, the bride was a sister-in-law of our dig liaison, Firas.  (I’m not sure if that is his official title, but it does describe what his role is.)  We attended the female only part of the celebration where all the women of both sides of the family gather in the house of the bride’s family.  Because they are indoors in their own home the bride and her other female relatives can wear what ever they like.  The brides typically wear something akin to a very elaborate prom dress with lace, crystals, beads sequins etc.  And have their hair done in a very elaborate style.  She then sites on a high throne like love seat while all the other relatives gather in the largest room of the house and visit and dance.  Mostly it is the unmarried girls who did the dancing but some of the younger married women danced as well.  The room was very crowded and hot but everyone seemed to enjoy the experience.  At one point some women came in and sang accompanied by one woman playing a hand drum.  The song and u-u-la-tion (sorry about the phonetic spelling of that one)  were quite strange to western ears and I have no idea how to replicate the sounds but it was quite exciting and fun to see everyone get into the singing and clapping.  Ah the time once again brings my writing to a close.  I apologize for the truncated description but the pottery calls.  Until next time.


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One Response

  1. Kathy Patterson says:

    I am glad you are seeing so many parts of Jordan. I would like to see the wetland and the birdlife. Did you recognize any of the species? When we read the many posts from your site, most describing in one way or another how the lack of water creates hardships of economy and ecology it really brings home the notion that one of the world’s most precious riches is water. And, something we take so for granted when living here in the Midwest is so very precious. This year especially, we are absolutely surrounded by a sea of green, in the trees, grass and fields. The corn is about 10 feet tall now, lawns need constant mowing and the rabbits and deer come every day into the yard to eat the huge number of apples that fall from the trees.
    The wedding sounded very interesting and fun to attend. What types of food were served? Are your every day meals (at camp) Jordanian or American/British? I hope you can bring home some recipes.

    Keep looking out for the pedestrians and goats!We loved your post!

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Photos from Dhiban

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