Damiya Dolmen Field
In the lower foothills of the Jordan Valley, hundreds of megalithic blocks rest silently on 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 of the Damiya Dolmen Field together form a highly significant and rare landscape.
Dolmen sites throughout Jordan are being lost at an alarming rate, and the unparalleled landscape of Damiya is now threatened by developmental pressures from quarrying operations. With only a negligible barrier left to protect them, many of the fragile dolmens are now suspended on quarried pillars and left vulnerable to collapse. The Damiya Dolmen Field was included on the 2010 World Monuments Watch, and in December 2010, Jordan’s Department of Antiquities announced the creation of the Damiya Dolmen Archaeological Park to protect the dozens of dolmens that survive in situ. While the concept of the park is a very positive first step, the implementation of such a plan will require resources and local capacity building. In the meantime, the location still faces high development pressure from a number of interests. Inclusion on the Watch aims to encourage the preparation of a site management plan, as well as to raise continued awareness about the plight of this extraordinary landscape and to ensure its protection and transformation into an archaeological park.