Dozens of children bustled around in the courtyard of the historic farm building and experienced traditional craft techniques. Their parents, tourists, villagers and other visitors ambled along in the sunset across the new exhibition spaces of the ancient village Umm Qays “Hara Foqa” and contemplated domestic objects of daily life from the early 20th century. Nestled in thick pillows the children attentively listened to the story teller, who told stories about former life in the village, which crowns the antique city hill of Gadara. There was local food to be tasted and everyone enjoyed the event. In a corner in the shade the stonemason’s apprentices showed off their talents and the results of a two-year training course with German stonemason masters. They also invited the visitors to experience the techniques.
Visitors could experience stonemasonry techniques | © Prust, DAI.
Exhibition “Old Tales” in Umm Qays
The extensive presentation given from 12th to 14th October 2017 in Umm Qays, a village located to the northeast of Irbid, is the result of almost two years of preparation. Headed by the German Archaeological Institute and following a long period of preparation in three-to-four-week workshops on-site involving 25 participants from the village, the building archaeologist Claudia Bührig and the experimental archaeologist Frank Andraschko of Büro AGIL have carried out a training course in capacity-building and reinforcement of local resources. This project was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Local delicacies are tasted by the visitors during the exhibition | © Hartl-Reiter, DAI.
During these workshops the participants not only learned a lot about the prehistory and history of antique Gadara. There was also increasing focus on the former village, its houses, their interior equipment and life in this place. The temporary exhibition HARA FOQA – “Umm Qays – Old Tales” was dedicated to the memory of this way of life. The team collected private historic photographs from the village, which were presented here for the first time. Over a dozen exhibition posters explained various aspects of the former life in Arabic and English (environment – building – settling/living – food – everyday culture); guided tours to the exhibition, the ancient village and the antique city were offered. A collection of historic domestic objects, loaned by a participant in the course, was presented.
Children acquired practical experience in an experimental archaeological hands-on programme using wool, clay, bows and arrows and fire lighting and learned about life at the time of their grandparents, something they cannot learn from digital media. The exhibition team welcomed over 700 visitors. Serious thought is being given to a repeating of this event.