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Hard Struggle
I insert the report, which I sent to my acquaintances, on the study of Wadi al-Himmeh remaining carried out on May 13 this year.

This remaining has been investigated for nearly 20 years by an archaeological team consisting of several Australian universities. They have built a 'Big House' in the neighboring village, come to the site in every spring and autumn, over 40 degrees centigrade hotness in the summer and below 5 degrees coldness in the winter with occasional snow, and done research climbing down and up the wadi I fought every morning and evening. Archaeologists never camp in remains in principle, it might be natural of course.

They have been carrying out one of the world-valuable excavation and making a detailed study of excavated artifacts they brought back to Australia. They have an intention that they will be ready to donate artifacts they have excavated to the National Museum under construction. Probably a long friendship promoted by both Jordanian and Australian archaeologists on their personal level has enabled this donation, at the same time some different aspect comes out.

The above trend maybe synchronizes with the proposal expressed by the Cincinnati University of the USA that they intend to return the Hilbat ad-Dalih to the National Museum which they took to and have been keeping in their university. The Hilbat ad-Dalih is gigantic stone statues which symbolize Nabataean Kingdom, the Nabataean Kingdom appeared in the history in circa 6 century BC and was conquered by Roman Empire in 63 BC, and still is the pride of Jordanian people as the first kingdom in which Arabic language was spoken. The Kingdom's stronghold was in Petra which once was as stage of the great hit Hollywood film. The universities in Australia and America have begun showing a way of thinking and acting different from the one of European museums, except for the Metropolitan Museum in New York, haven't they?

Realizing that it is utterly hasty to draw a conclusion with these 2 samples, I would like to heartily appreciate these movements. This may come from a kind of favoritism of a person who has been involved in making an exhibition plan of the National Museum.

To visit all the sites of archaeological remains which are planned to be exhibited in the National Museum as one-to-one scale cut models, partial reconstruction, and to breathe field air and see the surrounding views, I have been keeping it as my policy. The other day I visited 'Wadi al-Himmeh' as well, a housing remain of the Epi-paleolithic Period, which is one of the sites where people started the oldest settlement and primitive agriculture in the world around 20,000 ago and near the Jordan valley in Northern Jordan. This visit was intended to bring a series of site surveys to an end for the present. The housing remain will be reconstructed and displayed in the National Museum.

I have already visited and studied more than about 40 remains all over Jordan until that time, I could reach any site somehow, however difficult a place it was, within tens of minutes after getting off a 4-wheel-drive car. As even Jihad, a young archaeologist, 32 years old, and one of competent partners of the National Museum who always made the rounds of remains with me, gave me a lot of lectures, easily found shards of stone tools and potteries (I, nonprofessional, cannot tell shards of tools from surrounding stones and earth) and handed over them to me saying 'Hi! Namba,' said that he didn't know the way to the remain, we were guided by a local archaeologist. Tens of minutes on a 4-wheel-drive car jolting along bad roads and some walks along grassy path after getting off the car, then the guide began telling Jihad in Arabic pointing far away hills. As I know archaeological words, I also began thinking that things had been going wrong perhaps, but it was too late.

Jihad easily started climbing down a cliff full with thorny weeds, rocks and a pile of rubble saying 'Hey Namba, let's go together!' Jihad's shoes were new but mines were soft shoes which I once thought of throwing away three months ago, so the soles was just like skates and smooth enough for sliding. I tried to grasp weeds by me but they were all thorny, why not I didn't prepare gloves, and also tried to grasp some suitable stones but they went rolling down to the bottom of a ravine. I couldn't help giving up as if it was other's affair thinking that falling into the pits of hell should be like this.

At length climbing down the cliff, nearly 100 meter high and about 70 degrees angle, reaching the bottom of a wadi, a river particular to a dry climate in which water flows only in the rainy season, and climbing up the opposite 100 meter cliff again, when I was nearly basking in a heavenly mood satisfying that I arrived at last, Jihad, Arabic famed as 'holly war,' told me laughing again 'Namba, we need to cross another wadi!.' I couldn't help determining to do so recalling some Japanese 'one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.'

When we at last reached the hill on which the remain existed, I lost my breath and was dripping with sweat clouding my sunglasses and even looking at the remain such simple a question came into my mind as 'Why did people of the Epi-paleolithic Period conceive an idea to live on the top of such a fierce hill?' However, the view was superb beyond description commanding the Jordan valley with a lot of greenery in the distance. Nearby hills are splendid with dignity in the quietness if we see them at a distance, i.e. without thinking such a chimerical idea as climbing them up and down.

Admiring so but my brain became full with gloomy feeling that 'I once more have to climb down and up those cliffs twice!' I asked Jihad 'Call a taxi!' but Jihad only roared with laughter saying 'It may come in Tokyo, but I wonder whether it comes to this hill.'

The above was the way I finished my study. Feeling, several times, that I might really die, instant death if I lost my footing, but it was a tiptop adventure. 'From now on when I meet some Jordanian archaeologist, I firstly ask the one if the one has set foot on Wadi al-Himmeh on your own. If the one says NO, I'll shut my ears to whatever lofty theory the one offers' said I, and Jihad kept laughing heartily.

Jihad standing at the left edge of first picture, a view of nearby hills, we climbed down and up such hills, in the second picture, a far view of the Jordan valley in the third picture, Doctor Namba examining the housing remain, his brain full of penance on return, in the fourth picture, and Ascetic Namba climbing up the ultimate cliff. I'm attaching those five pictures, please enjoy them.

If a city state 'Jawa' of the Bronze Age consisting of black basalt amidst a red desert in the north east of Jordan and near the border with Syria, where I visited two weeks before the above study, was a supreme experience of the quietness, 'Wadi al-Himmeh would be a harsh adventure of the dynamism. However, the remain of Wadi al-Himmeh was in the quiet with cool wind and comfort gradually revived inside of me even after coming back to Amman.

 

(12/7/2005)

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