Umm al-Jimal Town Revitalization

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About Project

Create a vibrant town center focused on the world-famous antiquities site at Umm al-Jimal.


  • Reorient entrance to archaeological site so that parking, entry and services are positioned within the village.
  • Create a "midan," a public area with park, interpretive center, food outlets, library, picnic area, parking, trained community guides
  • Build and equip the Hauran Cultural Center, a community events and interpretive center focused on the culture of the Hauran.
  • Continue the excavation and interpretation of the archaeological site.
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    Byzantine city of Umm al-Jimal
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    Byzantine city of Umm al-Jimal
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    Byzantine city of Umm al-Jimal
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    Archaeological team working, 2014
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    Children of Umm al-Jimal onsite
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    Umm al-Jimal team: Calvin College, Dept.of Antiquities, Open Hand Studios, Jama3iyya Jauharat al-Saudaa'
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    Traditional embroidered madraga from the Hauran region
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Project Summary

  • The Umm al-Jimal Project is a 40-year-old archaeological project spearheaded by Dr. Bert de Vries of Calvin College, Michigan.  A candidate for World Heritage Site status, the site is a dramatic Byzantine city of black basalt in north Jordan.  Today it is located within a village known as Umm al-Jimal.
  • As the recent recipient of the prestigious Ambassador's Fund grant from the US Embassy, Umm al-Jimal cleared and interpreted a significant section of the old city and water systems. Already the site is an important stop for university and school field trips, and now a curriculum segment has been developed to help teachers incorporate the site into history classes.   al-Hima is assisting the community and archaeological team to integrate the site and its visitors into the life of the community.  We are also implementing a UNESCO-funded project to revive traditional textile arts of the Hauran, with the goal of creating income for women in Umm al-Jimal.
  • The first step is to re-locate the current site entrance so that visitors approach the site from within the village.  Fortunately an attractive business area, park and library are already located at the historic West Gate to Umm al-Jimal.  Though disused, if this were the entrance to the site it could revived into a vibrate business area serving school groups, domestic visitors and international tourists.
  • The focus of income generation development is domestic tourism, and especially school groups.  A school curriculum unit has been developed for Umm al-Jimal, to encourage school groups to visit.  We will be training local women to guide school groups on the antiquities site and to provide an insight into Haurani culture, as well as the antiquities.  al-Hima looks to develop truly sustainable small business.  If, for example, every child on a school trip leaves just JD1 in Umm al-Jimal 200 days a year, this is an additional JD 10,000/year coming into a very poor community.  International tourism is "frosting on the cake."
  • Our dream is to establish a cultural and interpretive center to display and celebrate the Hauran culture of Jordan, a unique and diverse community.  Druze and Muslim families still live in Umm al-Jimal, and its Christian history as a client of the Roman Empire is locally well-known.  al-Hima has pledged support to continue excavations and restoration of the archaeological site to build its attractiveness and stature as a world-class site.