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Ancient Ghor Safi comes to light with the Zoara project


AMMAN — Modern Ghor Safi, located at the southeastern end of the Dead Sea near the lowest point on earth, has been populated for over 12,000 years, as attested to by the “rich archaeological evidence” stretching from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period to the Late Hellenistic/Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman periods, a Greek scholar explained.

 “It is accurately identified as ancient Zoora on the shore of the Dead Sea, next to the Sanctuary of Agios [saint] Lot, [where it is] depicted on the late-6th century mosaic floor map at Madaba,” Konstantinos Politis, an archaeologist and the chairperson of the Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies, said.

“Zoora, or Zoara, is represented as a walled town with three towers and an arched entrance gate surrounded by six date palms,” he said, noting that in the Old Testament Zoora is described as being one of the five ”cities of the plain” where Lot and his daughters initially fled after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Ghor Safi was a centre of a large Christian community and the seat of a bishop who attended the church councils in Nicaea [in modern-day Iznik, Turkey],” he continued.

The Ghor Safi archaeological project has located a significant number of sites since it began operating in 1997, the scholar noted, including the early Byzantine-medieval Islamic urban centre of Khirbet Al Sheikh Isa, the industrial complex of Masna Al Sukkar (commonly known as Tawahines Al Sukkar) and the Early Bronze Age and Byzantine cemeteries at Al Naq.

“Other parts include the sprawling Iron Age agricultural settlement of Tuleilat Qasr Mousa Hamid, the Nabataean fortress of Umm Tawabin with an associated dam below it, the early Christian hermitage at Wadi Al Hasa, and the ancient road along Wadi Sarmuj,” he stressed. “Further east, at the junction of wadis Hamarsh and Suweif, is a mega Pre-Pottery Neolithic B settlement.”

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Source: Jordan Times

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