The Watch

Damiya Dolmen Field

Damiya, Jordan Valley, Jordan

2010 and 2014 World Monuments Watch

In the lower foothills of the Jordan Valley, hundreds of megalithic blocks dot the arid slopes of the Damiya Dolmen Field. During the Early Bronze Age (3600–3000 B.C.), these massive slabs of Ramla sandstone and travertine were used to create burial chambers known as dolmens. The dolmens, with their lower upright stones supporting enormous horizontal capstones, convey the sense of delicate balance that has endured on this terrain for some five millennia. Roughly 300 dolmens survive in the Damiya Dolmen Field. Along with several other rock-cut tombs and circular stone-cut features, the mortuary structures together form a highly significant and rare landscape.

Dolmen sites throughout Jordan are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the unparalleled landscape of Damiya was threatened by developmental pressures from quarrying operations at the time of the site’s inclusion on the 2010 World Monuments Watch. With only a negligible barrier left to protect them, many of the fragile dolmens were suspended on quarried pillars and left vulnerable to collapse.

In December 2010 Jordan’s Department of Antiquities announced the creation of the Damiya Dolmen Archaeological Park to protect the dozens of dolmens that survived in situ. While a positive first step, the implementation of this plan still requires resources and local capacity building. In the meantime, the location continues to face high development pressure from a number of interests. The Damiya Dolmen Field was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch in order to encourage the preparation of a site management plan and to raise continued awareness about the plight of this extraordinary landscape.

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