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Words in the News
Monday 27 January 2003
Ancient caves get clean up
Petra The spectacular city of Petra in Jordan is being cleaned up. Petra was carved into the rock 2000 years ago by a people called the Nabateans. It's a popular tourist site, but it's not humans causing the mess this time. This report from Caroline Hawley
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Many of Petra's caves used to be inhabited by local Bedouin, until the government moved them out in the 1980s, when Petra became a World Heritage site. But antiquities officials say that dung left by the Bedouin sheep and goats is damaging the caves, many of which are also tombs, or ancient prayer rooms. The job of cleaning out the caves is now underway.

The workers are Bedouin who used to make their living selling souvenirs or giving donkey rides, but who are now struggling because of a drastic decline in tourism. The official in charge of Petra, Suleiman Farajat, said the aim of the clean-up was two-fold: to protect antiquity and to give work to people who've lost their livelihoods because of regional troubles. He told the BBC that some new inscriptions had already been found, as well as ancient pottery and broken shards of Nabataean sculptures.

Caroline Hawley, BBC
Listen Listen to the words
used to be
were in the past
nomadic people living in the Middle East and North Africa
World Heritage site
a historic place of international importance, according to the United Nations.
antiquities officials
government workers in charge of ancient objects
animal droppings
stone structures holding the dead
if something is two-fold, it has two parts
source of income
writing carved into stone
pieces of broken pottery or stone
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