The Madaba Regional Archaeological Museum (MRAM) grows out of MRAMP (the Madaba Regional Archaeological Museum Project). The project was conceptualized in the mid-2000s when the then Director General of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DoA) approached one of the co-directors, personally requesting help to renovate the current Madaba Museum, train its staff, and digitize all museum records. With help from directors of regional archaeological excavations, the DoA, and other specialists, plans were developed to work toward a new museum near the center of town and re-purpose the current museum for research and storage. In 2015, an international leadership team was formed, consisting of four co-directors—Douglas Clark from La Sierra University in Riverside, California; Suzanne Richard from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania; Andrea Polcaro from Perugia University in Perugia, Italy; and Marta D’Andrea from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy—and our project coordinator from the DoA in Jordan, Basem Mahamid.
MRAMP focuses on archaeologically preparing an endangered urban area – the Madaba Archaeological Park West (II) - for the construction of a new regional museum (MRAM) to make accessible and display archaeological materials from the Madaba region.
MRAMP was officially organized in 2015 and, with generous support from numerous international grants, began to rehabilitate the Madaba Archaeological Park West and prepare for a new museum. Photo galleries show the results of three seasons of onsite clearing, excavation, and conservation (2016-2018), along with workshops and training courses, as well as additional activities (like sub-surface mapping by Italian Marilena Cozzolino, using a georesistivimeter). They also place a special focus on the May 2017 official launch of the project which involved dignitaries from the US and Italian embassies, Jordanian officials (national, regional, and municipal), supporting entities, and 200 local guests. Ongoing maintenance continues onsite, in addition to focused attention on repurposing the current museum into space for research and storage of artifacts coming from the Madaba region. Given the rising challenges due to COVID-19, MRAMP then turned more attention to virtual reality, completing virtual tours of the architectural concept design of the new museum (visit HERE ), and engaging friends in the US Department of State and the US Embassy in Jordan to involve specialists in producing 3D virtual tours of various sites of interest in Madaba, complete with local tour guides and storytellers. Work continues on plans for the actual museum, with raising sufficient funds the primary focus.
The project rests on three main objectives:
1) Capacity building. MRAMP works in close-cooperation with the DoA to train local specialists and promote local operation and management of the museum in the future. One of our primary goals is training local specialists, beginning now and continuing through the life of the museum. Starting from our 2016 pilot season in the Madaba Archaeological Park West, we have used our field activities as a training opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students and DoA staff, in addition to a host of volunteers.
2) Promotion, protection, and enhancement of cultural heritage. In accordance with the DoA’s strategies for the management and protection of cultural heritage in Jordan, the entire project is conceived as a tool for raising awareness of potential threats to cultural heritage and of the challenges of promoting and protecting cultural heritage within contemporary society. By means of educational activities and community engagement, beginning now and continuing through the life of the Museum, the project aims to encourage and facilitate public awareness of the intrinsic civic values of cultural heritage, to minimize threats to cultural heritage, and to promote the principles of sustainable development.
3) Promotion of sustainable tourism in the city of Madaba and its region. This is also a basic objective of the project, which includes an extensive cultural heritage landscape to manage: an urban complex in downtown Madaba and the entire region surrounding the town itself. The Madaba district encompasses numerous archaeological sites, a dozen of which are presently active, from where archaeological artifacts flow into the Museum’s collection (see map of the region HERE). The objective of MRAM is not only to showcase the regional history, archaeology, and traditions of Madaba, but to connect the town and the museum with their surrounding territory. This will be accomplished by using directional maps and heritage trails as a springboard for local and foreign tourists to travel from the new museum to these locations as a series of related museums without walls. The development of itineraries to those sites that start from the museum will provide local and international tourists with the opportunity to experience the best of the cultural heritage of Madaba but also to develop strategies to protect and promote sites of cultural and historical value in the region.