Everywhere I look here it’s possible to uncover history – even in my backyard.
Our backyard which is just dirt, lots of rocks and everywhere you look pottery shards.
These pottery shards are just a selection of what I found in about 5 minutes. Whilst I’m no expert I think I’m safe to say (based on what I’ve seen in the museums in Petra) that I have pottery shards dating back a couple of thousand years (if not earlier) and spanning over a thousand or so years. There are handles of jars, bases from bowls, jars etc and lots and lots of fragments. Some of the pieces are really fine and delicate, whilst others are chunky and rough. They come in a range of colours and some of the pieces that I find have been painted with decorative patterns.
Now before you get all upset at me that we have built our house on an ancient site that should have been properly excavated I can tell you that the dirt in which these pottery shards is found has been brought to our house from another site. Sadly the site from which it was brought was not properly excavated. It was brought from a site down along the main road near the Petra entrance gate.
History is all around us here in Wadi Musa and unfortunately it’s sometimes viewed as something that gets in the way. Any new development work that is undertaken doesn’t require any sort of archaeological assessment or sign off before the work is commenced.
I have heard of cases in town of when foundations are dug for new buildings that whole Nabatean temples/dwellings have been found and rather than archaeologists being given the opportunity to inspect, document or possibly relocate what is found, that the concrete is poured before anyone is really none the wiser. And it’s not just private landholders you can point the finger at and shake your heads. The government is equally as responsible and have been known to destroy entire caves/tombs from the Nabateans because they were in the road – literally as a new road needed to be built.
From my point of view I consider this to be very mismanaged, but I can also see it from the viewpoint of the locals who are just trying to make a living and get on with their lives and that when they have been exposed to this history for all their lives and going back generations it’s not viewed as anything special or unique. Plus in their minds there’s the whole site of Petra which is off limits so archaeologists and tourists have enough.
It’s a hard situation to find a balance to.