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Andrews Hosts Hesban Ceremony

Date: October 6, 2005
Phone: 269-471-3322

Andrews University's Institute of Archaeology recently had the privilege of hosting the signing ceremony of a $45,750 grant that will go towards the restoration and maintenance of Tal Hesban in Jordan. Andrews has led out in excavations at Tal Hesban since 1968. Below, read an article on the event that appeared in the Friday-Saturday, September 30-October 1, 2005 edition of the Jordan Times.

The Jordan Times
Friday-Saturday, September 30-October 1, 2005

“US Grants to Safeguard Heritage of Two Archaeological Sites”
By Victoria Macchi

HESBAN – Atop Tal Hesban in the Madaba Plains on Thursday, winds threatened to carry off a document that would safeguard the very existence of an archaeological site, which contains evidence from no less than 21 historical periods.

A grant from the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation will restore and preserve the remains of the settlements that lie above and within the hill of Tal Hesban.

US Embassy ChargĂ© d’Affaires Davide Hale signed the grant agreement at a ceremony yesterday, attended by local leaders as well as Jordanian and American academics.

Increased vandalism with thin last year raised concerns about the future of Tal Hesban. The $45,750 grant will go towards restoring and maintaining the site, one of two winning projects in Jordan in 2005.

Plans to construct pats allowing visitors to explore the site without harming its structural integrity and to facilitate movement around the site for workers and tourists are also under way.

Andrews University, based in the US, has led archaeological efforts at Tal Hesban since the beginning of excavation in 1968. Primary areas to benefit from the grant are the Byzantine Church, the Governor’s steam bathhouse, the Mamluk Governor’s residence.

Furthermore, the archaeological team is considering reconstructing part of the site, namely the Byzantine Church, in order to attract further tourism to the area.

Also included in the Tal Hesban project is anthropological research among the Ajarmeh villagers of the area, including research into traditional methods of rainwater harvesting.

Hale signed a second $39,748 grant for the restoration of the Neolithic village of Ghwair 1 in Wadi Feinan. Alan Simmons of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the institution leading work ont eh site, highlighted the importance of continued funding after the excavation in places such as Tal Hesban and Ghwair 1.

Grants for the preservation of what he called “very elaborate communities” are crucial to ensure continued maintenance of accomplished work.

When asked about the grants awarded under the Ambassador’s Fund this year in Jordan and the direction of future funding, ChargĂ© d’Affaires Hale replied that he was pleased with the current projects.

Hale said that in the future he would like to see more done to preserve living heritage in addition to archaeological work.

“What particularly interests me,” he said, “[are] ways we can find programmes to preserve forms of expression like dance, music and language.”

Jordan was one of the largest recipients of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation this year, with these tow grants totaling more than $85,000. Worldwide, 150 grants were given totaling $2.5 million.

During yesterday’s ceremony, Hesban Mayor Khalil Dabbas presented Hale with a plaque in appreciation of the grants.

“You can count on us to be partners in the development of culturally sensitive tourism,” said Hale.

Hesban Provincial Governor Ahmad Khatatbeh, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, the Department of Antiquities, the US embassy, and various archaeological missions in Jordan also attended the ceremony.

Randall Younker read a statement by Oystein LaBianca, who leads digs at the Tal Hesban archaeological site but was unable to attend the ceremony.

Both sites are being developed in conjunction with the Department of Antiquities.

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