The Antiquities of the Jordan Rift ValleyRami G. Khouri (Amman, Jordan: Al Kutba, 1988; distributed in the U.S. by Solipsist Press, P.O. Box 544, Sebascopol, CA) 157 pp., $23.00
Ever since my first volunteer days lugging baskets of dirt and washing pottery, I have had an archaeological fantasy that, unhappily, I cannot indulge. I want to go back in time and live in the ancient Biblical world just to see how people really existed. Did all those garbanzos and lentils we find in excavations actually taste good? Did their houses have windows? Although we can never do this, Rami Khouri’s book allows us to do the next best thing: to immerse ourselves almost totally in the archaeology of one region of the Biblical world.
Khouri is a Jordanian journalist who has been covering archaeological developments in his country for over 20 years. It is clear that he loves both his country and its ancient remains. Indeed, he founded Al Kutba Publishers primarily to present the archaeology of Jordan in a popular, educated way for tourists and students.
This book significantly contributes to fulfilling that purpose. Khouri has sifted through hundreds of technical archaeological reports to compile a wealth of information so far unparalleled for Jordan in popular literature. While he writes for laypersons, he does not spare the specifics. This is not a glib guidebook for bored tourists. He assumes an audience with a strong archaeological interest, one that savors details and delights in relatively complete summaries of the finds.