2008 World Monuments Watch
Located about 70 kilometers north of Petra, Khirbet et-Tannur is one of the best-preserved and most intact examples of a Nabataean open-air sanctuary. The hilltop complex began as a simple altar surrounded by open space, but was expanded in two major phases of construction during which a temple, colonnades, and additional rooms were added. An elaborate sculptural program at the site included a series of reliefs related to the zodiac and ancient deities. There was no village at Khirbet et-Tannur—it served only as a pilgrimage site, with visitors climbing a steep path up the hill to reach the sanctuary. Khirbet et-Tannur was excavated in 1937 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities and the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. Since then, scavenging and looting have damaged the site, and it continues to be vulnerable. It is hoped that Watch listing will draw attention to the site, which is important in the understanding of religious practices of the ancient Near East.