Abila City (Modern Qweilbeh) is part of the Tentative list of Jordan in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Abila was one of the cities of the Decapolis, a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire (now in Jordan, Syria and Israel). The site had been inhabited already by the Iron Age and possibly even the Bronze Age. During the Roman period it gained regional importance. It had an advance water system sustained by two aqueducts.
Map of Abila CityLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
I visited Abila in August 2023 during my extensive trip in Jordan. I visited it in combination with the others TWHS in northern Jordan making up the series of the Decapolis cities.
I had some expectation on this site based on other TWHS in Jordan (and on Google reviews and WHC description) but, unfortunately, Abila didn't meet them at all.
But let's start from the beginning.
I used Jerash as a base for the exploration of northern Jordan by rental car, as it seemed the easiest thing to do without the need to go back to Amman at the end of every single day and each TWHS in the area can be reached in about 1 hour from Jerash. Reaching Abila was relatively easy, it's clearly marked in Google Maps, although it isn't clear that the last part of the road is on an unpaved steep dirt road that goes through some crops. Nothing impossible though. My regular small sedan could make it easily. However, once I reached the first ruins of Abila, I realised that the site isn't managed or maintained properly. There is nothing, not even a sign marking the importance of the place. The main ruins are located in a valley, and they seem almost completely abandoned, although I believe there must be some sort of regular maintenance.
From the description on the WHC website the place seems full of things to see, unfortunately not much is left beside the main Basilica (in the picture), the remaining of a road and a theater, and a group of columns at the top of the hill overlooking the site.
On its own Abila doesn't have any potential to become a WHS one day and it left me with a question that I kept bringing up after visiting each TWHS in northern Jordan. I wonder why Jordan nominated each Decapolis city as a different site that probably has no chance to be inscribed rather than work harder to present a single TWHS including all (or at least the most important) Decapolis cities together as different components. Such a TWHS could have included Abila, Gadara, Pella and even Amman and have a much greater potential for inscription.
As it is, I don't see Abila ever becoming a WHS. In fact, I don't see how any of the Decapolis cities in Jordan could ever become a WHS with the exception of perhaps Gadara. But I'll leave the discussion to the reviews of the other TWHS that I intend to write.
Read more from Riccardo Quaranta here.
2001 Added to Tentative List
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