Peace Between Jordan and Israel: A New Era for Archaeologists?
We sat on the White House lawn watching—and celebrating—the end of nearly a half century of war between two neighbors, Jordan and Israel. We heard His Majesty King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declare an end to the fear and the killings. The psychological and security wall between the Israeli and the Jordanian peoples, the limits on commerce and the awkward tourism would be a thing of the past.
Our thoughts turned to archaeology: The relationship between scholars studying the ancient past of these lands has also been distorted by this long conflict. Israeli scholars have not been able to meet Jordanian colleagues in their universities and at their archaeological sites; Jordanian scholars have not made the short drive from Amman to Jerusalem to attend international meetings and to visit Israeli excavations. Sites such as the baths of Hammat Gader in Israel and the contemporaneous city of Gadera that overlooks them from Jordan have not been studied in their natural relationship.
“We are on our way now truly,” said King Hussein, “towards what is normal in relations between our peoples.”