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mostraFor the first time, the exhibition presents the results of the latest international archaeology investigations and of the research conducted by the archaeological mission of the University of Florence in these past twenty years in Jordan at the sites of Petra and Shawbak, one of the most important historical areas in the world, and theatre of the extraordinary discoveries made in the past fifteen years. As we know, Petra was the capital of the mercantile empire of the Nabataeans which controlled the incense route, then conquered by the Romans, the Persians and the Arabs up to the epoch of the Crusades, between 1100 and 1118, when king Baldwin of Jerusalem built the two castles of Al-Wu’Ayra and Al-Habis. The “Crusader” century (between 1100 and 1189) revived the city’s ancient function in southern Jordan, as a frontier between the Mediterranean and Arabia, but also between Syria and Egypt.
The Castle of Shawbak, it too, founded by Baldwin I, is one of the most spectacular medieval settlements of the eastern Mediterranean. It is sited 25 km north of Petra, which it replaced as capital of Transjordan in the XII century. The studies conducted by the Italian archaeological mission have restored this site to the great history of the Mediterranean, along with its extraordinary monuments: the cathedral of Saint Mary, the palace of Saladin’s grandson, the monumental bastions of the late XIII century.
As of 2006, the Shawbak site has been the object of an innovative international Italian-Jordanian agreement of scientific and cultural cooperation between the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the University of Florence, which combines archaeological research, conservative restoration and valorisation.
Planning the exhibition has offered the opportunity to experiment and re-elaborate the latest practises of exhibition communication, defined in Anglo-Saxon countries and, to date, inedited in Italian archaeology exhibitions, while museological design, defining the approach to exhibition communication, and conceiving a strategy for visitor learning, are all totally innovative.
The exhibition itinerary has been conceived in three sections: 1) the discovery of an authentic capital that reinterprets the Crusader presence of the Seigniory of Transjordan, and begins a succession that crosses the dynasty of Saladin and reaches us; 2) the documentation of the diverse role performed by the frontier as a historical key of interpretation: from the ancient age (Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine), Arab-Islamic (Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid) up to the Crusader-Ayyubid and Mameluke ages, explored through the archaeological observatory of the region and of the sites of Petra and Shawbak; 3) the collection and “publication” of visitors’ comments. Several films (from Indiana Jones to Aleksandr Nevskij) will contribute to drawing the public to the exhibition themes.

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