Current Projects News

August 9, 2010

Grant to Protect Jordanian Archaeological Site and Educate Children

AIA/Open Hand Studios and Umm el-Jimal Project

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) announced today that the site of Umm el-Jimal in Jordan will benefit from its next Site Preservation Grant. The grant will be used to ensure the long-term preservation of Umm el-Jimal through education and outreach that increases awareness of the significance of the site and fuels development efforts. A major initiative of this program will be the creation of a virtual museum and educational center.

Umm el-Jimal, continuously occupied from the 1st through 9th centuries AD, contains an early Roman-era village and adjacent Byzantine and early Islamic period towns. The site includes a wealth of inscriptions in Nabatean, Greek, Latin, and Arabic and is an exceptional example of a prosperous agricultural town on the frontier of the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic empires. Umm el-Jimal is currently threatened by neglect, looting, a lack of shared ownership, and very few economic opportunities for residents. The Umm el-Jimal Project, under the direction of Dr. Bert de Vries of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, balances archaeological research, cultural heritage preservation, and community development.

For this current project de Vries is teaming up with Open Hand Studios, a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago that helps developing communities independently protect and share their cultural heritage. Together de Vries and Open Hand Studios plan to create a virtual museum and educational center that will form the foundation for future education, outreach, and development opportunities for the site. The online center will include a virtual site tour and exhibit, an educational curriculum developed with Jordan’s Ministry of Education that will be integrated into Jordan’s national school system, and complementary information such as an oral history archive and an interactive guide to other Jordanian cultural sites.

About AIA Site Preservation Program and Grants

The AIA Site Preservation Program emphasizes outreach, education and the spread of best practices in site preservation. The Institute also supports preservation projects in Belize, the United States, Cambodia, Cyprus, Cyprus, Turkey, and Peru. In addition to grants, the program includes advocacy to stop the destruction of archaeological sites, informs U.S. Troop of cultural materials they may encounter while deployed, presents outreach activities for children, maintains online resources for the public and professionals, hosts workshops, and gives awards for best practices. All aspects of the program, including the awarding of grants, are made possible through donations to the AIA. To learn more, please visit

About Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)

Founded in 1879, The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is North America’s oldest and largest archaeological organization. Today, the AIA has around 200,000 members and over 100 local societies in the United States, Canada and overseas. The organization promotes public interest in the cultures and civilizations of the past, supports archaeological research, fosters the sound professional practice of archaeology, and advocates for the preservation of the world’s archaeological heritage. The organization hosts archaeological fairs, lectures and other events throughout North America; publishes Archaeology magazine and the American Journal of Archaeology; awards fellowships and honors; and leads global archaeological travel excursions.

For more information and images please contact:

Meredith Anderson Langlitz, AIA Site Preservation Program Coordinator —

Ben Thomas, AIA Programs Director—

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