Jordan occupies a unique setting both in time as well as in space. For it lies at the crossroads between the ancient world’s great civilizations. It is itself the birthplace of many technical achievements in hydrology, agriculture and metallurgy. Thus, one can find important archaeological sites that span the last ten thousand years. Indeed, Jordan’s cultural heritage is unique in that is enjoys such a long time span, with impacts of indigenous as well as invader civilizations, be they Greek, Roman, Byzantine or Ottoman.
Moreover, Jordan is unique in its diverse physiography and climate. From the arid shores of the Dead Sea to the evergreen oak forests in Ajloun to the magnificent sandstone desert of Wadi Rum, one is never far from a beautiful landscape and a significant ecosystem.
The sheer abundance of both natural and cultural heritage can lure a person into taking these treasures for granted. Indeed, Jordan heritage is suffering under the huge burden of population growth and the accompanying development. The impetus for urban expansion, the need for water and space coupled with poor awareness, planning as well as tight government budgets has placed much of Jordan’s heritage under severe threat.
As part of GJU’s awareness of these problems, the university has established the Center for the Study of Natural and Cultural Heritage (CSNACH). The concept of the center is to use the university’s significant physical, human and institutional resources in the struggle to increase awareness, to help build knowledge about some of the important sites and regions in the country (and beyond) as well as to encourage the adoption of policies that will protect and enhance the value of Jordan’s heritage.
CSNACH has thus, since its inception in 2011, strived to build partnerships with various concerned entities in order to achieve common objectives related to our mission. A memorandum of understanding with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and agreements with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Petra Development Tourism Regional Authority (PDTRA) are the most significant and tangible of these.
The center is involved in a number of interesting projects, as can be seen in this website. The center also works on increasing awareness through lectures and field trips, both for students and for members of the local communities. We are open to any suggestions that may help to improve and enhance our heritage, and I welcome any inquiries regarding this. CSNACH has no permanent staff, and thus relies heavily on volunteerism from university faculty and staff in addition to friends from outside the university for its success. I would like to extend my appreciation for all of their efforts here.
Prof. Nizar Abu-Jaber