History:

Madaba Archaeological Park West is home to a wide variety of archaeological and cultural heritage structures. Pottery excavated at the site dates to Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Mamluke, and Late Ottoman periods. However, there is evidence the area was first settled during the Bronze Age and also occupied during the Iron Age as a Moabite City. During the Hellenist period, a small village was established. However, during the second century AD, this village blossomed into a true city. 

The park site’s oldest portion hails from the Roman era, exhibiting stretches of the Roman Road. The Byzantine period, is the most represented with the Burnt Palace, the Church of the Martyrs, and the Virgin’s Church. There was also considerable Islamic expansion during the seventh and eighth centuries AD. However, following this period of expansion the site was largely abandoned up until the 19th century when Christians settled in the area.

Remnants of this area include a complex of Ottoman homes, which will be conserved and refurbished to contain the future Madaba Regional Museum. Other artifacts such as mosaic pavements made of large white tesserae provide proof that there was a Late/ Byzantine/Early Islamic phase. 

Madaba is known as the city of mosaics, which can be easily seen throughout the Archaeological Park as well as the surrounding area. The archaeological park is also a strong capsule showing the long, rich, and diverse history and occupation of the area. 


Site Development :

One of the most fundamental tasks was clearing out the Ottoman era complex stones, dirt, trash, and vegetation in order to expose the newly cleaned floors of the buildings. The team completed geo-physical analysis of the Ottoman-era homes in order to prepare them for the creation of the future museum. 
Although one of the stated goals was consolidating the walls of the settlement, this has so far been only partially completed, given the considerable time and high financial costs. Another milestone was cleaning three Byzantine era cisterns. All of these efforts served to create the environment for the construction of the future museum. 
The other major goal of the project was to repurpose the current archaeological museum in another location, into a storage are research facility that would be associated with the future museum. Progress was made toward this goal as well, especially in conservation management training.

SCHEP Support:

Capacity Building 

The project staff best describe their own attitude toward this fundamental component: “each milestone included capacity building- it’s built in.” MRAMP worked closely with the regional Department of Antiquities office to ensure that their employees, as well as other members of the local community were engaged with the project from the beginning. This included workshops and informal training on finances, data entry, site clearance, museum studies, and related areas. MRAMP sought to connect trainees with leading trainees in the field, bringing in experts to teach local staff in intervention and stabilization, mosaic conservation, and museum management. 
To ensure museum employees know best practices in museum management, SCHEP and MRAMP conducted a number of training courses in handling and displaying objects, data entry, and a variety of other skills. The existing maybe museum has a number of issues in terms of how the items were documented, stored, and or presented, potentially be harmful to their future preservation. More than 14,000 artifacts have been catalogued and safely stored or presented. 
Five students from the American University of Madaba’s Department of Architecture completed a three-month credited internship module with MRAMP and received SCHEP coaching and support. Throughout the internship, the focus of the work was on data collection and analysis to help the museum architects from Studio Strati in Italy with their planning for the future museum. The interns also had the chance to visit the site while the team of archaeologists and conservators were present in the site; this gave them the chance to learn more about those topics and helped them connect the archaeological work to the future museum. 

Job Creation 

MRAMP created 18 new employment positions, focusing on physical site improvement and data entry. MRAMP also provided a number of training courses for established professionals to encourage their career development and to enhance skills.


Awareness 

Given the long history of the project director’s work in the area, community engagement is at the heart of MRAMP. To this end, every step of the process has involved extensive community feedback. This included meeting with policy makers, local business organizations, 20 academic research institutions, INGOS, and dozens of local families. One such example is a meeting with architecture students and other community members to share museum design options. Nearly 80 people showed up to learn about the project and progress made.