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Gov’t needs JD45 million to appropriate archaeologically rich lands — DoA

270,000 dunums appropriated as department ‘places its hand’ over lands with archaeological remains

By Hana Namrouqa - Nov 23,2017 - Last updated at Nov 23,2017

AMMAN — The Department of Antiquities (DoA) needs allocations worth JD35-JD45 million to appropriate lands where archaeological remains have been found, according to a government official.

Owners of lands with archaeological ruins are not allowed to erect buildings or change the use of description of their lands in order to protect the archaeological remains from destruction, DoA Director General Monther Jamhawi said.

The lands can be used for agricultural purposes as long as they are registered as agricultural units, Jamhawi said, noting that the department “places its hand” over lands where archaeological remains have been found and appropriates the land when sufficient funds are secured.

“The lands where archaeological ruins are found are located all over the Kingdom because Jordan is very rich in historical and archaeological sites,” Jamhawi told The Jordan Times.

He noted that the department has so far appropriated 270,000 dunums of lands where archaeological ruins were found, noting that the department needs up to JD45 million to appropriate lands where important finds were unearthed.

“The department has 27,000-28,000 registered archaeological sites across the country, but we believe there is actually 100,000 archaeological sites,” he underlined.

The government is increasing the department’s budget for 2018  by  four times compared to 2016, he said.

“The budget for the year 2018 is JD1.5 million. In 2017, it was JD1 million,” Jamhawi stated.

The official underscored that improving and protecting archaeological sites is among the department’s main challenges due to the lack of archaeologists and specialised engineers whose number does not exceed 100 in all of the 12 governorates. 

Earlier this week, the department announced a mega project to renovate and carry out new excavations on archaeological sites in Iraq Al Amir, located west of Amman. The project will renovate Qasr Al Abd and another 15 archaeological caves in addition to carrying out excavations on Al Bassah Cave to investigate theories connecting the site to biblical times. 

 

The project is being implemented in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality, according to Jamhawi, who said that due to the project’s importance it enjoys “an open budget”.      

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