New Museum in Jordan Planned by Gannon Archaeologist
Posted: January 24, 2017
For 35 years, Gannon University professor Suzanne Richard, Ph.D.
has been working in the Jordanian desert to uncover buildings that
are five millennia old. This year, she began a project to create a
new building, a regional archaeological museum in the city of
Madaba, a major tourist center and university town located 35 miles
south of the capital city of Amman.
The goal of the Madaba Regional Archaeological Museum Project is
to engage local stakeholders to protect, preserve and display
artifacts from 1,700 years of Madaba's rich history.
Richard who directs the Collins Institute for Archaeological
Research and the Archaeology Museum Gallery at Gannon, and her
colleague, Marta D'Andrea of Sapienza University of Rome, hatched
the idea two years ago. "Having been on the Madaba museum committee
for years (without any success)," Richard said, "I immediately
thought of trying again to either renovate the very old museum or
attempt to find a new location."
That location is the Madaba Archaeological Park West, where the
new museum will incorporate restored buildings from the
four-century-long Ottoman era. The adjacent Roman Road, and the
Burnt Palace and Martyrs Church, with their late Byzantine mosaics,
will be showcased on the museum's first floor, while the upper
floors will house exhibits of materials excavated from the various
archaeological sites in the region around Madaba.
One of those projects is the excavation at Khirbat Iskandar, an
Early Bronze Age (ca. 3500 - 2000 BCE) site from the critical
1,500-hundred-year era that saw the rise and collapse of the first
cities. Khirbat Iskandar is located on the famous caravan route,
the King's Highway, east of the Dead Sea in the Plains of Moab.
Since 1981, excavations here have revealed occupation spanning the
entire Early Bronze Age, and it is widely considered to be the most
significant site from the final period of that era. Richard has
been the Principal Investigator (PI) since 1981; Jesse C. Long, Jr.
from Lubbock Christian University and D'Andrea, from Sapienza
University of Rome) serve as co-directors of the project.
Gannon University students have participated in the Khirbat
Iskander dig, and it is Richard's hope that more opportunities for
students will arise from the museum project and from Gannon's
agreement for the exchange of faculty and students with the
American University of Madaba. "I would like to perhaps set up my
museum introductory class online to involve Gannon and Jordanian
students, as well as to spend part of the course abroad for
hands-on experiences," she said.
Richard has been a post-doctoral fellow in residence at American
Center of Oriental Research in Amman, which was founded to promote
knowledge of ancient and Middle Eastern studies with Jordan as a
focus. Since leaving for her sabbatical in April, Richard has
attended two international conferences, directed two digs and given
public lectures, including one at the American University of
Beirut. She spent November as an invited scholar in residence at
Sapienza University of Rome where she gave several Ph.D. seminars
and a number of public lectures. She also presented a lecture at
the University of Florence in November.
Going forward, Richard, D'Andrea and their colleagues, Andrea
Polcaro from the University of Perugia in Italy and Doug Clark of
LaSierra University, will continue to build support for the museum
project. "I wrote the Harris Grant [for the project] and have
recently, along with Doug Clark, written another grant for a
significant amount to cover work over the next two years," Richard
The American team just received word of an award of $117,000,
and are preparing to submit a third proposal for a large grant to
complete the restoration of the entire Madaba Archaeological Park
West. "We will direct a second dig next May and oversee the
consolidation and preservation of the Ottoman buildings;
thereafter, we will direct the construction of the museum, setting
up programs, training, workshops, courses in museum studies, etc.,
in order to ensure local management of the museum and the
sustainability of the museum in future."
For more information on the excavations at Khirbat Iskander, click here.
For more information on the Madaba Regional Archaeological
Museum Project, click here.
For more information on ACOR, click here.