Summer 2017-2018 – Preserving Petra, Jordan


Every year Dr. Cynthia Finlayson and students travel to Petra, Jordan for on-going field work to preserve these beautiful and ancient sites and to learn from the culture.


Cannon Fairbairn, a BYU student studying Ancient Near Eastern Studies – Hebrew Bible with a minor in Anthropology, participated in the experience.


"I knew that participating in a Field School, especially abroad, would be invaluable," says Cannon, "Luckily, I became acquainted with Dr. Finlayson as I took her classes and she invited me to attend field school with her this summer. So, I joined the team of archaeologists and my fellow students for the 7-week adventure."


"The project itself is unique, for it is both an archaeological project and a conservation effort. One of the primary goals of the project is to research and restore the ancient Nabatean water works in order to preserve the monuments and structures as they originally protected and interacted with, thereby paying respects to the ingenuity of these ancient people. Each area of excavation had been strategically chosen based on the questions we had about the building complexes on top of the plateau and based on their integration within the ancient water system. Due to the projects unique dual nature, we not only learned about the Ad-Deir complex, but also the Nabatean water works and how one can utilize ancient ingenuity to preserve their remains. I personally worked alongside Dr. Finlayson and our crew digging, analyzing artifacts, and making detailed records of the site. It was wonderful to be able to apply what I had learned in class to an actual site, a phenomenal experience!"


"In addition to working on the Ad-Deir Monument & Plateau project, we took weekend and day trips to breathtaking historical and natural sites in Jordan, such as Wadi Rum and Jebel Nebi Harun. We were also blessed to be able to live among and work closely with the local community and get to know them. I was able to learn so much about and from their culture. It truly was a life changing experience in a multitude of ways."  


Jake Hubbert, another BYU student majoring in Anthropology (emphasis in Archaeology), returned to Petra to excavate.


"My experience in Petra was an unforgettable one," says Jake, "Having been before I knew a little what to expect, but even then Jordan and the Arab peoples are always full of surprises. Every day was a new adventure as I interacted with our workmen and with the other archaeologists on and off site. I helped to excavate the Eastern Cistern B, which is one of three ongoing excavations on the Ad-Deir Plateau in Petra. Our goal was to reach the bottom of the cistern to determine the approximate size as well as the structure of the Cistern. I feel my skills in archaeology as well as my Arabic have been amplified by my experience in Petra."

Jake plans to pursue a Master's and PHD in archaeology to teach at a university.

Read BYU's Press Release about the trip.