Ghor es-Safi (also known as Ghawr as-Safi) is an area in the Jordan valley, located in the Wadi al-Hasa. It is situated between the governorates of Karak and Tafilah, near the southern Dead Sea. The location is depicted on the 6th-century Madaba map as "Zoara."
Ghor as-Safi is perhaps best known for its historical sugar cane factory.
Sugar Cane FactoryEdit
Many excavations were facilitated by the Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies (HSNES) and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan since the 1990s, and Dr. Konstantinos D. Politis directed most of these archaeological projects. Archaeological work was ongoing as of at least 2017. Efforts were mostly focused on learning about a sugar factory located at sub-site Tawahin as-Sukkar (also known as Tawahin es-Sukkar or Maṣna‘ as-Sukkar).
There is both an eastern and western pressing room which helped archaeologists understand the settlement and agricultural patterns at the site since 12,000 years ago. The pressing rooms are accompanied by a penstock used for irrigation and water resource management. It is believed that a building nearby to the pressing rooms was used to boil the raw sugar cane in order to make refined sugar, based on sugar fragment evidence displayed at the site. Sugar and molasses pots were among the materials recovered during excavations.
Locally-produced sugar would have been sold as an export throughout the world; sugar is considered by some scholars to have been the "cash crop" of the southern Levant during the medieval period.
Archaeological investigation at this and other sites in the area suggest "a population with a Nabataean character living on the south-eastern shores of the Dead Sea from the 1st-6th centuries A.D." Finds at the site suggest presence of human settlement for several different historical eras: 8th to 9th, 12th to 14th, 15th to 16th, and 20th centuries (including the Early Bronze, Byzantine, and late Islamic Periods).
Ghor es-Safi also houses the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth, which displays many archaeological discoveries from the surrounding area. Since 2014 especially, work has been done to conserve the Tawahin as-Sukkar archaeological site and make it accessible to visitors. Agro-tourism is a growing source of employment in Safi, such as through the Jordan Southern Ghawr Company.
The area of Ghor es-Safi is characterized by the Saramuji conglomerates dating back to the Proterozoic, somewhere between 595 and 600 mya (million years ago). The area's geological origin could be associated with similar conglomerate formations from the Upper Proterozoic, such as those in Shammar and several areas of the Arabian-Nubian Shield. The area around Ghor es-Safi is composed of alternating horizons of boulder conglomerates and arkosic sandstone (the latter with green impurities due to chlorite and epidote from early metamorphism).
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- Photos-Jones, Effie; Politis, Konstantinos; James, Heather; Hall, Alan; Jones, Richard; Hamer, Jerry (2002). "The Sugar Industry in the Southern Jordan Valley: An Interim Report on the Pilot Season of Excavations, Geophysical and Geological Surveys at Tawahin as-Sukkar and Khirbat ash-Shaykh `Isa, in Ghawr as-Safi". Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. 46: 591–614 – via publication.doa.gov.jo.
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- Politis, K. D. et al. (forthcoming 2012) Archaeological Landscapes of Zoara: Results of the Survey and Excavations in the Ghor es-Safi (Jordan) from 1997 to 2010. Palestine Exploration Fund Monograph X, London.
- Politis, K. D. et al. (2005) Survey and Excavations at Ghawr as-Safi 2004. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. 49: 313–326.
- Jordan Southern Ghawr Company. Visit Safi: Community Based Tourism. ACOR/USAID SCHEP. 2019.