The Archaeology of Beir Mathkour

The ancient site of Beir Mathkour is an archaeological treasure in the foothills of Wadi Araba. It was the first major way-station along the ancient Spice Route west of the Nabataean capital of Petra. Important features of the site, as it appears now, include a Roman/Byzantine fort, a bath complex and caravanserai, an ancient civilian settlement west of the fort, cemeteries, and numerous other structures in outlying areas. The richness of the archaeological landscape; however, is not just limited to Beir Mathkour itself. Ancient nomadic camps, agricultural fields, farmhouses, multiple caravan stations, and Roman military forts dot the countryside. Although the region appears today as a typical desert, as it must have appeared in antiquity, its ancient inhabitants converted this arid, seemingly desolate landscape into one that was lively and bustling with agricultural and commercial activity. It is the role of the George Washington University, with the cooperation and in partnership with the local community, the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, and the Hashemite Fund for the Development of Jordan Badia, to document this rich archaeological landscape, to bring the past into the present, and to highlight the important role cultural heritage preservation can play in building local capacity and supporting sustainability. 

Teams of archaeologists from GW have been working at Beir Mathkour for several years. In addition to archaeological surveying to document ancient sites in the region, excavations at Beir Mathkour itself and at regional sites are ongoing. The results of this work is nothing short of spectacular, and highlight the importance of the site in antiquity. If you would like to support the archaeology of Beir Mathkour, or if you would like more information on how you could help preserve Beir Mathkour and its rich cultural landscape, please contact:

Beir Mathkour Project
c/o Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
The George Washington University
345 Phillips Hall
801 22nd Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20052
Email: amsii@gwu.edu