Nebras Maslamani reports on latest updates from the OPOF project, which has been shortlisted for the 2020 Newton Prize for Jordan.  The team is delighted to have been awarded this recognition, especially during such a challenging year. The project is reliant on events and participatory workshops with the people of Faynan and Greigra and the OPOF team members in Jordan and UK. The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably delayed these events and workshops. On March 21st the Jordanian Government imposed one of the most stringent lockdowns anywhere in the world. This has now been partially eased but travel restrictions continue until today.

The OPOF team in the UK continued to work on OPOF strands from home and by online meetings with the rest of the team in Jordan, while all the field visits for OPOF team in UK were postponed. The team in Jordan have continued to visit Faynan whenever the Jordanian regulations allow.  Due to the uncertainty of the current situation, the team is seeking approval for a six month extension for OPOF project to enable its completion. Progress has, however, made with each of its six research strands.

1: The recent history of Faynan

The designs for a museum display about the last 100 years of Faynan’s history and the present-day community have been completed. The display panels were to be manufactured in Jordan, but are now being produced in the UK and will be shipped to Jordan.  They were supposed to be installed at the Faynan Museum in May 2020, but will now be installed once international and internal travel restrictions in Jordan are eased.

2: Wall Hanging for the Museum

The team has been engaged with more than 40 women from Faynan and Greigra in the production of the Faynan Heritage community map for display in the museum. This is a beautiful wall hanging capturing local sense of the environment, history and community. Work on the wall hanging continued during lockdown in the UK and it will be completed in Faynan once travel restrictions are lifted.

3: Engaging with schools

The children of Wadi Faynan are its future.  The OPOF project is supporting six schools in Faynan and Greigra by providing teaching materials and ideas about cultural heritage.

A training session of teachers had to be postponed on two occasions, first in October 2019 because of the nation-wide teachers’ strike in Jordan and secondly in March 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak. This will now be delivered when travel restrictions are eased. Work has continued throughout lockdown on a Cultural Heritage Educational Kit for the teachers. This provides information and teaching ideas about the ancient history of Faynan relating to the archaeological sites in the region.  The content has been completed and the kit is under design and production.

4: The Faynan Heritage Trail

Ten information boards has now been manufactured and will be positioned close to archaeological sites making the Faynan Heritage trail so that visitors will be able to know what they are looking at when they see ruins in the landscape, and appreciate their historical significance. OPOF is also partnering with a local organisation to conduct an awareness campaign within the community to learn how to erect the boards and protect them in the future. Currently the team is finalising the remaining panels and information boards to erect on Faynan Heritage trail once travel restrictions are possible. The OPOF team has also provided the Faynan Museum with cases for the display of archaeological artefacts from Faynan.

5: Digitisation

OPOF is developing Faynan Heritage website and is digitising a selection of archaeological sites and artefacts of Wadi Faynan by using photogrammetry. The team is hoping to digitise more sites and place a screen inside Faynan Museum before OPOF completion after travels resume. You can view 3D models of some Faynan Heritage sites and artefacts here.

6; A Museum development plan

Undergraduate students in Jordan has established four participatory designs for Faynan Museum after several visits to the region with community members from different ages, focusing on the outdoor play space. The team in the UK is building up on that to finalize one design with the team in Jordan once the travel restrictions start to ease in Jordan and the UK.