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Jordanian-British archaeological project wins Newton Prize

By Saeb Rawashdeh - Nov 26,2020 - Last updated at Nov 26,2020

‘Our Past, Our Future’ project members pose for a group photo at the CBRL British Institute in Amman (Photo courtesy of British Institute)

AMMAN — An archaeological project in Jordan that involves the local community has won the Newton Prize for 2020, according to its project manager.

After expert review and evaluation followed by a virtual award event under the patronage of HRH Princess Sumaya, the project  “Our Past, Our Future” (OPOF) was awarded the Newton Prize for 2020 on November 4.

The Newton Fund, established in 2014, develops science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of collaborating countries, according to its website.

The OPOF project involved the community from Faynan region, in southern Jordan, 250 kilometres from Amman, the project’s manager, Nebras Maslamani, from the CBRL British Institute in Amman, told The Jordan Times recently.

She added that in each aspect of the project, the collaborative parties in OPOF from Jordan and the UK are engaging with community members through “co-creating space and fostering an environment focused on community needs”.

“It is ongoing through workshops with women, men, students and children in most of OPOF strands. The social impact is what I can focus on the most at the current time, as witnessing women from the community connect is what really fascinated me, and now it is worth all the hard work and every challenge is considered an opportunity,” she said.

“More than 40 women have been engaged in creating Faynan Heritage community map that will be placed inside the Faynan Museum,” she said, stressing the impact of more than 20 undergraduate students,  who have established four participatory designs for the Faynan Museum.

Moreover, educational resources are available online including digitisation of artefacts in the region, Maslamani said, noting that an educational kit for the schools is being established, and 15 information boards are ready to be placed on Faynan Heritage Trail, with four panels about the last 100 years.

“We have also built relationships with other local authorities and organisations to contribute to other challenges the community is facing that have been accumulating and resulted in the current situation. The work is still ongoing, and constraints have arisen due to the pandemic situation, but we are thriving to do more,” Maslamani said.

In the meantime, another project was launched in February 2020 titled the “Archaeology into Business in Faynan”, which enables around 25 women from the community to participate in an engaging and enabling environment to establish their own business, while at the same time raises awareness around the rich cultural heritage of the region, Maslamani noted.

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