Eight sophomore students from the “Archaeology and Cultural Heritage” program at Bethlehem University completed an archaeological excursion to Jordan from Monday, 6 February 2023, to Sunday, 12 February 2023. They were accompanied by Dr. Omar Abed Rabo, the chairperson of the Humanities Department, and Dr. Jutta Häser, a visiting scholar to the program.

Twenty German and Austrian students and assistants of the Theological Study Course at the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem and their Dean, Dr. Johanna Erzberger, joined the excursion funded by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) which is the world’s largest funding organization for the international exchange of students and researchers. This joint activity availed to both groups the opportunity to exchange archaeological and historical knowledge as well as to know and learn from each other.

The archaeological excursion covered many historical and archaeological sites. The students visited the ancient center of Amman and its famous citadel; Madaba with its famous map in St. George’s Church; the Byzantine remains of the oldest known monastery in Jordan; Petra, one of the ancient wonders; the crusader-Ayyubid castle at al-Karak; and the best-preserved Roman city in the Near East in Jarash.

The program included museums and trips on ancient roads. The students visited the Jordan Museum, the Jordan Archaeological Museum, the Mount Nebo Museum and the newly established Petra Museum which gave them a broad overview of the archaeology and history of Jordan. Also, the exhibit and collections of the Museums showed the strong cultural connection between sedentary populations along both sides of the Jordan River. Traveling along the Desert Road, known as the King’s Highway, with its impressive scenery of the great canyons and the large wadi systems of Jordan, demonstrate the tight relationship between landscape and settlements like campsites, villages and/or cities.

Ahead of each visit, students from both programs partnered to prepare presentations explaining the significance of each site in terms of its history and setting/location. In addition to the presentations, Bethlehem University students were asked to write reports about this on-site learning excursion.

Due to the success of this excursion to Jordan, further cooperation is being planned between Bethlehem University and the Theological Study Course at the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem.