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Located at the lower end of the Dana Biosphere Reserve, with access from the Dead Sea Highway, Faynan is an outstanding example of environmental and cultural preservation efforts, paired with award-winning sustainable hospitality services and architectural design.
Award-winning lodge, designed by Ammar Khammash, managed by EcoHotels with minimal impact on the environment.
The Neolithic sites around Faynan (dated to 10,900 BC) account for the beginning of a fundamental shift in human development in the transition to settled life and farming. Even at this early date people had begun to exploit the local copper ores, using them in their native state for beads and possibly for pigment.
A large Early Bronze Age (3,300 BC) settlement has been identified, where copper ore was brought to, broken up and smelted, and objects elaborated through hammering or using molds.
There was a major expansion of copper mining and smelting during the Early Iron Age, first millennium BC, while Faynan was part of the territory known as Edom, with more than 100 mines and five major copper smelting centers in the area. Faynan appears mentioned in the Old Testament (Genesis 36, 1 Chronicles 1 and Numbers 33) as Pinon / Punon.
At the beginning of the Common Era, the Nabateans developed an advanced level of hydraulic engineering enabling farming in the most arid of regions. A large reservoir was probably first built around this time, and floodwater farming was extended in Wadi Faynan.
After the apparent decline of mining in this period, Roman control expanded the mining and smelting activity to an even greater industrial scale than that seen in the Iron Age, with Wadi Faynan (known as Phaino) becoming one of the largest producers of copper in the eastern Roman empire. Significant parts of the work force were criminals condemned to death by working in the mines. Also Christians were brought in by the Romans as slaves to work in the copper mines.
When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, Faynan became a bishopric and a center of pilgrimage to honor the martyrs who had died there. There are remains of three churches, and possibly a monastery, and of several Christian cemeteries.
The Mamelukes resumed copper smelting in the 13th century with new technology, reprocessing the slag heaps from earlier periods. There may have been a local demand for copper in the important sugar industry, in particular for the large copper cauldrons used to boil and refine the sugar.
Feynan Ecolodge and archaeological area
Located in Wadi Araba just off the Dead Sea Highway (route 65), a 3 hour drive from Amman, 2 hs from Aqaba, 1,5 hs from Petra and 2,5 hs from Dana village.
If you are not driving in a 4x4, transportation should be booked for the last 8 km of off-road track from the reception center to the lodge. Transportation is provided by local Bedouin in their own pickups. All proceeds from transportation go to the drivers to help support the local community.
It is also possible to hike to Feynan from Dana Village (5-7 hours).
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Compilation of information, editing, translations, photos: Universes in Universe, unless otherwise indicated.