A colloquium of Greek archeology discusses the biblical metropolis from the story of Lot
AMMAN - With the support of the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Greece, Ahed Sweidat, an international symposium on the traditional town of Zoara (also known as Zughar) within the Ghor Safi opened on Wednesday in Athens .
The symposium entitled "Interdisciplinary research and study of the finds of a Byzantine and medieval Islamic trading city in Palestine Tertia - south of Bilad Al Sham" brought together archaeologists and historians from Greece and abroad.
“Today we have the opportunity to study so much about space, which unfortunately has not received the attention it deserves in educational discourse and analysis. The lowest level of the earth is a space that contains treasure; it is a crossroads of civilisations,” Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said in his opening speech.
Sweidat pointed to the shared values of Greek and Jordanian societies and the fact that Jordan and Greece had been part of the same empires for many historical periods.
“The importance of this conference is to prove that Greece and Jordan have a common historical past. I guess it brings us closer and we feel a very close connection. Also, three of the most important Christian sites are on the western and eastern shores,” Sweidat noted.
Yiannis Meimaris of the National Hellenistic Research Foundation spoke about the historical significance of historic Zoara, best known for being one of the five cities destroyed in the biblical story of Lot.
"Lot and his daughters are the only survivors of the disaster at Sodom and Gomorrah," he said.
According to Meimaris, the Greek historian Eusebius Pamphilus (AD 260-AD 339) compiled the "Onomasticon", which was a list of biblical pilgrimage websites published in alphabetical order.
Zoara bishops have been identified for conciliar acts, Meimaris continued, including their additional participation in ecumenical councils.
Lot's monastery was excavated in 1987 by Constantinos Politis, a Greek archaeologist working at the British Museum at the time, Meimaris pointed out.
"Geographically, Ghor Safi is a unique place and known for its relatively rich agricultural fields," Politis noted during his presentation on cultural studies, in which he described the site's landscape, surroundings and opportunities.
Climate change contributed to the colonization boom around the Dead Sea during the Roman and Byzantine periods, while further population growth occurred in the 11th and 12th centuries, Politis said.
"Petra and Pella are famous sites, but we also made Zoara famous," Politis said, adding that Ghor Safi was directly connected to Gaza in Islamic times and was an important business center.
The area was also known for indigo production and sugar mills, which were a state monopoly during the Ayyubid-Mamluk period of the 12th to early 15th centuries, Politis said.