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Ancient burial chambers in Jordan Valley threatened by quarrying.

Byline: ANI

Amman (Jordan), October 13 (ANI): An international report has indicated that ancient burial chambers in the Jordan Valley are being threatened by modern development and may be demolished.

According to a report in the Jordan Times, the dolmens foothills of Damiyah were listed among 77 endangered sites around the world on the World Monuments Fund (WMF) annual watch list.

Damiyah, located in the northern Jordan Valley, is home to hundreds of dolmens, megalithic table-shaped block formations, which some experts believe may date back to the Chalcolithic period, around 4500-3500 BC.

Although their exact usage is in dispute, many believe the sandstone and travertine dolmens were used as burial chambers.

The average dolmen in Jordan is around three metres long, one metre high and one metre wide, although some reach up to seven metres in length, according to various surveys.

The WMF report said that many of the Damiyah dolmens are being adversely affected by rock quarry activities and are "left vulnerable to collapse".

Some 300 dolmens survive in the Damiyah Dolmen Field, according to the WMF.

With several other rock-cut tombs and circular stone-cut features, the Damiyah Dolmen Field forms a "highly significant and rare landscape" that should be protected, the report stressed.

Although Neolithic flint blades and scrapers have been found near the stone structures, most of the Kingdom's dolmens are dated to the Chalcolithic period and the Early Bronze Age (3600 - 3000 BC).

Through various surveys, the dolmens have yielded Iron Age pottery and even Early Bronze Age jugs and bowls, leading many to believe they were used for burial and cultic practices.

The field is near Tal Damiyah, which some so-called biblical archaeologists have linked the site to the town of Adam, which is mentioned twice in the Bible.

According to the report, dolmen sites throughout the Kingdom "are being lost at an alarming rate", and the Damiyah landscape is now threatened by developmental pressures from quarrying operations.

"With only a negligible barrier left to protect them, many of the fragile dolmens are now suspended on quarried pillars and left vulnerable to collapse," the report stated.

While it acknowledged the efforts of the Department of Antiquities to document and preserve the structures, "highly invasive quarrying" will bring them to an end. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Oct 21, 2009
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