What’s that? You’ve never heard of a Tean (tea-an), much less how to nab one? They are less common than they once were thousands of years ago in the deserts of Jordan. The locals here say that the best way to catch one is to lie in wait near a desert oasis with a pottery bowl filled with water. When they walk up to take a drink…POOF! – you grab ‘em by the toe. If he hollers…
OK, I can go no further. I have to break it to you. There are no such things as Teans. I just said that since reading about ancient pottery shards seems so much less interesting. I assure you, however that is NOT the case. There were, however, Nabateans, which was a group of Nomads that settled in southern Jordan circa 600 B.C. They were like, “Hey y’all, this here running around with our camels and tents all the time sucks.”
So, instead they decided to corner the trading business in the region and BAM, before you know it, they were the Wal-Mart of the desert without all the plastic food storage containers, expensive oil changes, cheap car stereos and Dale Earnhardt tribute t-shirts. According to yourdiscovery.com (Hey you scholars, cut me some slack, it’s 2:30 am. I don’t have time to cite real sources. This is history for the masses in 30 second word-bites) the Nabateans traded over multiple continents, including Asia, Rome, Africa, Europe and North and South America. Just making sure you were still with me. Bush fans, Rome wasn’t a continent (just like Africa wasn’t a country) and if they could’ve made it to the New World, we wouldn’t have to celebrate they guy who murdered indigenous populations by gorging ourselves with the most foul-tempered fowl annually. So..for real, they did trade ivory, spices, precious materials etc. over China, Rome, India, Syria, and Egypt. (thanks yourdiscovery.com). During their reign, they carved out magnificent buildings from the local red limestone, which we will be visiting soon on our trip to Petra. Think Indiana Jones or search for Petra online and you’ll be bombarded with pictures and info.
Why am I carrying on about this you ask? Mainly, because you’re still reading, so stop complaining. If it was that bad, you would’ve stopped. But really, this leads to what we did today in Jordan, after a brisk morning walk and breakfast of course.
Today, our team toured the American Center for Oriental Research (ACOR). For those of you who don’t know about ACOR, (probably most of you who aren’t archaeologists or anthropologists) let it suffice to say that it is one of the coolest places a history geek could be. On the walls, there are examples of hand-embroidered Palestinian clothing. They have an excellent collection of artifacts, including reconstructed pottery recovered from Petra that puts our modern stoneware to shame. I can tell you this is a fact. I held a 2300 year old (approx.) bowl in my hand that weighed about as much as a few sheets of paper. I really almost wanted to wet myself. I think our group must have said “wow” about 5000 times in an hour. No joke. The tour, led by soon-to-be Asst. Director Sarah Harpending, was top-notch. I have to give her credit. She’s an English speaker and speaks Russian and Arabic. Those people are awesome.
From there, we moved on to our Amman Rotary Club Banquet at the Landmark Hotel. 5 Stars. Simply awesome, unless you’re not really into marble and hand carved wood, awesome rooms and a really cool swimming pool. Then it would probably suck and you should consider staying at our hotel – Amman International Hotel. The accommodations are excellent, the staff is phenomenal, but just don’t expect a single cab driver in Jordan to be able to find it.
At the banquet, hosted by soon-to-be Rotary Club President Daoud (a UWGB Alum), we made some awesome contacts, including Urs, whose position will not be mentioned. He was kind enough to give us his interpretation of Insha Allah in a cultural context. While it technically means “God Willing”, he pointed out that American soldiers he served with told him it means not a freakin’ chance (words slightly modified for the sake of keeping the article PG.) He did give one of our group members a great contact to learn more about the British Mandate system.
I was able to make a contact as well. His name is Dr. Samuel. Since I haven’t told him I’m writing about him, I’ll leave his last name off. He is going to hook me up with the head of an Arabic language school, Mark LeChance (sp?) so that I can get some ideas for the text book I’m writing. He also invited me to the Evangelical Free Church, which I’m looking forward to attending.
As you can tell, it was a busy day. I would be remiss if I didn’t relate the story of our attendance of the World Cup Semi-finals at a trendy restaurant in Amman called the Blue Fig. I’ll keep it brief. Jay Harris was kind enough to reserve us some space in front of the big screen on the couches for the game. I was convinced that Germany would win. Apparently I know less about football (soccer for you Americans) than a German octopus, who picked the Spaniards to triumph. Mr. Octopus picks the winner of each game by placing more of his tentacles on a box holding the country’s flag that he thinks will win. He is six for six so far. I am 0 for 1. I hope I’m right about the Netherlands beating the pants off of Spain though. That would be a nice way to let the Spanish know that if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.