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Old culture, architecture of Karak’s Bathan village to be restored in renovation project

By Maram Kayed - May 27,2019 - Last updated at May 27,2019

In this undated photo, a man can be seen standing near an old house in Bathan village in Karak Governorate, some 150km south of Amman (Photo by Salam Adayleh)

AMMAN — In a recent conference held at Brooklyn University, New York, Jordanian architect Salam Adayleh discussed her project of “bringing old cities back to life”.

Adayleh, who graduated from the Jordan University of Science and Technology, chose Bathan, a small village in Karak, as the focus of her graduation project.

According to Adayleh, the project is concerned with maintaining the old architecture of the southern village. “The project in brief seeks to preserve the culture of old towns by preserving their old buildings.”

“I wanted to pick an old city but I did not know which one. After going to Bathan and meeting its simple, nice people, hearing about its rich history, and seeing its beautiful old houses, I chose it as the face of my project,” Adayleh told The Jordan Times in a phone interview.

Adayleh explained that the project rebuilds the dilapidated parts of houses while trying to conserve the “overall harmony” of the structure.

Bathan, according to a survey by the Department of Statistics in 2015, has around 215 residents. However, Adayleh said that the village “used to be of grave importance” in the past.

“Its location is along the Wadi Al Karak, which was an important source of water for the people of the south. There are trees there that are more than 400 years old. The village had a lot more people before urbanisation hit,” said Adayleh.

Built by the Romans, Bathan is a city that has been “neglected” since people started migrating to bigger cities, as explained by Adayleh.

“It is not just a matter of architecture that is falling apart. Culture, too, is being buried. There are dialectical words, stories and traditions being forgotten.”

The people of Bathan told Adayleh that many traditions, such as dipping a newlywed couple’s clothes in the river, are ignored no longer practised.

“I hope this project directs our attention to the architecture of the old cities of Jordan and the many traditions they hold inside their old houses,” concluded Adayleh.

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