Rehabilitation of the Nabataean Flash Flood Protection System, Wadi al-Jarra Dam
Project start and end date: 2010-2011
Project Consultants: M. Huneidi, U. Bellwad, M. Kharouf & A. Salihi
Funding provided by: US Embassy in Amman- Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Awards
Project cost: $ 83,700
The Petra National Trust, in coordination with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Middle East Engineering Management consulting company conducted a study/survey of the impact of flash floods in a number of areas where flash floods have a high and damaging impact on monuments and visitors’ safety. In some areas these flash floods have caused deaths amongst tourists and members of the local community. In 1963, twenty two visitors were drowned in the Siq following a rainstorm. The study/surveys investigating the hydraulic infrastructure of ancient Petra that were conducted by PNT include the Siq and the areas that flank the Siq between 1996-2002, in the Siq al-Mudhlim area in 2002/3 (it includes the area starting at the entrance to the Park through the Mudhlim tunnel around Wadi al-Mataha ending at the Nymphaeum), the Petra Basin and the Khazne area in 2004/5.
The evaluation of the recorded elements led to a preliminary model of Petra’s hydraulic infrastructure in antiquity. It furthermore established the first relative chronology showing how the entire system was developed over the centuries, how it declined and finally its collapse. Each element of the system, its function in the entire network and its technical and constructive characteristics was determined as a result of this research.
It is one of these remaining hydraulic elements of the Petra’s flash flood prevention system at the inlet of Wadi al-Jarra into the Khazne Courtyard that requires preservation in order to serve its original function in the protection of this area from the negative impact of flash floods. Being in the vicinity of the Khazne (Treasury) one of the main monuments of Petra in terms of tourism attractions renders the restoration of the dams vital for the protection of this monument and others in its vicinity. The rehabilitation of the dams will be a major contribution not only to the full function of the flash flood prevention system, control of erosion and visitor safety, but to the conservation of this exceptional monument, the Khazne.
The outer façade of the dam that will be restored is the best preserved façade in terms of its aesthetic integrity within Petra’s original Nabataean flash flood prevention system; visible still is the dam itself to its full height, the outflow valve chamber and the stair case built for maintenance.
Restoring and revitalizing this hydraulic feature will have a great impact not only for the reinstallation of the flash flood prevention system as an entity, but for the presentation and explanation of this system to visitors. the Wadi al-Jarra dam project will be a further step in PNT’s contribution towards the preservation of the entire site of Petra from the impact of flash floods.