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Caves, structures of Iraq Al Amir hold clues to distant past

By Maria Weldali - Dec 28,2020 - Last updated at Dec 28,2020

A view of Iraq Al Amir, some 15 kilometres from Wadi Al Sir in west Amman (Photo by Maria Weldali)

AMMAN — Surrounded by fertile valleys and highlands, the archaeological structures of Iraq Al Amir are rich in historical narratives of the distant past, according to a Jordanian scholar.

Located some 15 kilometres from Wadi Al Sir in west Amman, Iraq Al Amir is known for its ancient caves situated in one of the cliffs and the Qasr Al Abd, which is an archaeological monument that was never completed.

“Qasr Al Abd is a very rare and unique structure that dates back to the Hellenistic period. It was surrounded by an artificial lake and is made-up by massive blocks,” Professor of Archaeology at the Hashemite University Muhammad Waheeb told The Jordan Times on Monday.

Iraq Al Amir  consists of 15 caves, six on the lower level and nine on the upper level, according to Waheeb.

There was considerable interest by British travellers and historians in the area and later on by the French and American scholars, according to Waheeb.

Furthermore, Waheeb said that King George V of the United Kingdom visited the site in 1882, in addition to English traveller and archaeologist Gertrude Bell in 1910.

Recent excavations in Wadi Al Sir revealed the presence of archaeological structures of “great significance”, including the cave Mugharat Al Kaniseh, Waheeb noted. 

Mugharat Al Kaniseh, also known as the Cave of Tyrus, located in Al Basah town 15 kilometres west of Amman, consists of a major cave with two churches and a nearby large cemetery dating back to the early Bronze age, added Waheeb.

The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) has exerted efforts to preserve the historical, archaeological and aesthetic character of Iraq Al Amir, according to Waheeb, who said that “about two months ago GAM together with the Ministry of Tourism signed an agreement to renovate and develop the area,” Waheeb added. 

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