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View from the Mountains, The Bir Madhkur Project

August 8, 2013

Appreciating the landscape 

Eid at the caravan station


The Jordanian desert around Bir Madkhur is so quiet that a small breeze sounds like a low rumble and my camera shutter a painful roar interrupting the serene beauty.  Occasionally, I would attempt to capture the vast, open feeling and hike up to a high mountain point, but my images rendered no justice to the spacious experience.

The other Bedouin working with us on the Bir Madhkur project renamed, Eid, my Bedouin helper, and “Sura Jamal” meaning the “Picture Camel” because Eid carried my heavy photo gear up and down mountains.   Somehow between the few Arabic words I knew la (no), huna (here), and do-do (snake), we managed to do the job.


One of my favorite moments this summer was when Eid starting playing Arabic music on his cell phone while I documented the survey team in the mountains. I used the video function on my camera and captured a 360-degree view of the desert and mountains with Eid’s music as an appropriate soundtrack.

The video and my experiences with Eid seems like the perfect introduction to a series of blog posts about the Bir Madkhur project I plan to post over the next few months. Meeting a local Bedouin who helped guide us through the area and appreciating the landscape of the mountainous desert helps creates a backdrop, a timeless setting for the 2000-year-old structures and objects we examined.

Jamal SuraSince 2008, the Bir Madhkur team has surveyed and excavated the remnants of ancient life that dots the landscape of Wadi Araba in Southern Jordan. The Wadi Araba gave passage to traders along the incense route to the city of Petra, a bustlingly ancient center of trade.   Staff and volunteers for the Bir Madhkur Project documented Roman forts, agricultural and water systems guard towers as well as small villages, pottery, and Nabataean caravan stations that housed weary travelers and the people who served them.


To see the 360 video click below

To see a gallery of images from this summer go to

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