Archaeological treasure threatened by sweeping urbanisation

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Tucked away into the lush hillsides in the north of the Kingdom, Tal Ziraa is quietly becoming one of the most important archaeological sites in the Kingdom.

The hill is located in Wadi Al Arab, an archaeologically rich area some 5km southwest of Um Qais where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Israel meet and where over 100 sites boast a treasure trove of diverse artefacts, telling a complex story mirroring the rise and decline of different cultures and rulers in the region.

“We have 5,000 years of cultural layers - this is really great for the region. You can’t find a site like this anywhere else in the Kingdom,” Dr Jutta Haser, director of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology (GIPA) told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

According to the German archaeologist, the most important site is Tal Ziraa, which lies where Wadi Al Arab and Wadi Zahar meet, rising some 40 metres above the surrounding countryside areas.

The GIPA, alongside the biblical Archaeological Institute in Wuppertal and experts from nearby Um Qais, has been excavating the area every Spring and Fall of each year since 2003, as part of the organisations’ greater “Gadara-region project”.

The area was chosen because of its strategic location, leading experts to believe that the site could yield significant archaeological finds.

Instead, the hill has yielded an overwhelming wealth of historical and cultural finds, Haser said.

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