There is likely no member of the Umm al-Jimal community who has done more to preserve the physical and cultural heritage of this place than Muaffaq Hazza. His love of both the ruins of the ancient town of Umm al-Jimal and also of the people in contemporary Umm al-Jimal, has facilitated a personal connection between the two to benefit each of them.
Muaffaq was born in Umm al-Jimal. His grandfather participated in archaeological field work in support of research on the ancient site. From early childhood he was impressed by the archeologists’ work in his hometown and spent most of his time tagging along behind Abu Butrus (archaeologist Bert DeVries) who became a mentor. Mr. Hazza formalized his own expertise with an Archeology Degree from Yarmuk University followed by a Master’s Degree in History at Al-Bayet University in Roman-era archaeology in Umm al-Jimal. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Islamic Archeology at Bonn University, Germany. His research interests and academic publications concentrate on the Early Islamic period, particularly inscriptions, which are prevalent in Umm al-Jimal.
Muaffaq began working the Umm el-Jimal Archaeological Project as a trainee in 1992, and became field director and archeologist. He currently serves as an archaeologist and coordinator for its grant-funded programs and field seasons. Projects include traditional archaeology as well as site preservation and interpretation. He is currently overseeing a water harvesting project based on the ancient water system on the site, matching current community needs with ancient solutions. He is part of an international committee working on a UNESCO World Heritage File for Umm al-Jimal on behalf of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities.
His combination of passion and knowledge contribute to Muaffaq Hazza’s most important role—that of mentor to young and old in Umm al-Jimal. He teaches formally and by example the deep and lasting value of the cultural heritage of Umm al-Jimal for the local community, for Jordan and for the world. Because of his success and enthusiasm, he now has aspiring archaeologists following him around learning to respect, preserve and love the history of Umm al-Jimal, perhaps even his own children.