Tour Of The Long Forgotten Places: Part Three

Posted on: March 23rd, 2008 by Lina 4 Comments

Wendy Merdian and Melissa Manning continue their journey through Jordan’s biblical archeological sites, completing the final part in the series. [1] [2]

Biblical Archeology In A Day
Written By: Melissa Manning & Wendy Merdian
Photography By: Melissa Manning

Site VII – Um Ar Rasas, Burj Sa’man

The ruins we visited in the vicinity of the village, Um Ar ‘Rasas, are not actually biblical sites as they date from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods, the fifth to the eighth century AD. Before visiting the ruins of the Byzantine town, Kestron Mefaa, we stopped about one km away to see an usual tower; unusual in that the 15 meter tower is solid and has no internal stairs, though it appears to have had a room at the top of the tower with four windows, once facing each directions. Rough crosses are hewn into three sides of the tower, with finer carving at the top.

The peculiar architecture of this tower, Burj Sam’am in Arabic, seems to indicate that it is a Stylite tower of the fifth century, used by a Christian holy man.

During the pre-Constantine rule of the Roman Empire Christians were persecuted and many were martyred for their faith. Once Christianity became the official religion of the Empire and intense persecution ceased, a movement sometimes known as “white martyrdom” rose up, with holy men and monks demonstrating their piety by undertaking such ascetic feats as living atop pillars or towers. One of the most famous, Simon Stylites, a Syrian ascetic, lived atop a pillar in Aleppo, Syria for 37 years. Pilgrims came from miles around to visit this holy man and to listen to him preach God’s Word. After Simon Stylites became famous, other holy men began to imitate him, themselves living atop towers in order to pray and preach away from the distractions of the world. Our guide suggested that these Stylite towers may have even been the prototype for the Islamic muzzein, from which the call to prayer is given.

The scaffolding surrounding the tower is part of ongoing excavation and preservation work. Near the tower is the ruins of a church, cisterns, and a three-story building which may have been some sort of lodging quarters for visiting pilgrims.
(more…)

Luwiebdeh Spring Carnival

Posted on: March 17th, 2008 by Ramsey No Comments

Written by: Saleem Ayoub Quna Photography by Ogba Faraj

Jabal Luwiebdeh’s reputation as a quiet and peaceful residential neighborhood in the old part of Amman was heavily contested Saturday afternoon, March 8th, as more than 1500 people, mostly children and youth, took to its streets to mark the second anniversary of Luweibdeh Spring Carnival.

The parade, led by a mounted patrol of six policemen, started at Paris Square and proceeded on in the main streets of the Jabal up to the National Gallery Park where it took a U-turn to end on the playgrounds of the Terra Sancta School. The participants walked to the beat of drums and bagpipes performed by the Mountain Lions’ Scout Troupe and the tunes of a four-member local French band. A third scout group from Ibn Rushd private school in Zarqa joined the procession while enthusiastically chanting and dancing all along the way.

(more…)

Tour Of The Long Forgotten Places: Part Two

Posted on: March 17th, 2008 by Lina 3 Comments

Wendy Merdian and Melissa Manning continue their journey through Jordan’s biblical archeological sites. Be sure to read up on part one and stay tuned for the final part in the series!

Biblical Archeology In A Day
Written By: Melissa Manning & Wendy Merdian
Photography By: Melissa Manning

Site IV – Khirbet Iskander

From Machaerus we returned to the King’s Highway, once an ancient trade caravan route, and traveled south to the Khirbet Iskander site. Though the name “Khirbet Iskander” means the “ruins of Alexander” in reference to Alexander the Great who conquered the area in 323 BC, the site is actually the ruins of a fortified Early Bronze Canaanite city, the only one of it’s kind to be discovered and dating back to 2300 BC.

The Early Bronze Period, 3500-2000 BC and divided into four sub-periods, is so significant because this is the period in history when the first cities rose up in Mesopotamia and Egypt. It is also the period when writing was first discovered. The rise of urban centers influenced the rise of cities in the biblical lands of present day Jordan and Israel. This was the land of Canaan, peopled by the Canaanites. The Israelites didn’t come to the area until 1200 BC.

We didn’t actually go down to the site, where excavation is ongoing, but instead viewed it from the highway. Before leaving the area our leader revealed yet another hidden treasure: a Roman road milestone inscribed with the name of Nerva, Emperor of the Roman world from AD 96-98. Imagine, just lying in a ditch off the highway!


(more…)