Randolph (Randy) B. Old is the ACOR Board President. His essay below on what ACOR and Jordan have meant to him was originally published in the ACOR Newsletter 27.2 (Winter 2015). If you have stories to share about how ACOR has impacted your life, please let us know.
In the early 1970s, when oil prices spiked and the business world predicted that the Middle East would undergo unprecedented growth, Chase Bank included me in a task force deciding where it should open new branches. I recommended that Chase open a branch in Amman, and to my surprise, I was told to go make it happen. In August 1975 I moved to Jordan with my wife and three small children, having very little knowledge of Jordan, its history, or its culture – and knowing no one. During our first week, we bought a used Volvo from Mohammed Asfour and shortly thereafter met Jim Sauer, ACOR’s Director, thus initiating my family’s long and warm relationship with Jordan and ACOR.
In the early days, we followed Jim around from site to site, learning about the different layers of visitors to Jordan over the millennia. My wife, Jody, took Jim Sauer’s pottery course with Alice Pickering and many other interested (and interesting) friends of ACOR. Then in later years my children participated in excavations with Doug Clark and Tom Parker. I tended to like “the old rocks,” as Kathy Nimri (ACOR’s former administrator) called them, the hand axes that Gary Rollefson taught my family to recognize. In 1990, I was recruited to the ACOR Board and have spent many wonderful hours with our great mix of academic, business, diplomatic, and other ACOR Board members.
ACOR is proud to include stories like this from our supporters – please e-mail us at email@example.com to tell us why you support ACOR or to let us know if you would like information about how to include a bequest to ACOR in your will or other easy ways to give back to ACOR and Jordan.
Along the way there have been endless stories of fun and wonder . . . finding the papyri in the Petra Church; Gary Rollefson’s famous statues from Ain Ghazal; many wonderful trips getting lost in the desert; watching Tom Holman’s convertible with the top down slowly fill up with very fine dust as we drove to the desert castles; restacking the columns on the Amman Citadel; listening to Gary Rollefson explain the structure of the heavens to my youngest daughter, Josephine, on a starry night as we lay on our backs on cots in the middle of the desert where it seemed you could almost touch the stars; lots of laughs from 15 of us sitting around a circle in Ajloun listening to each Board member’s life story at the insistence of our newest board member, Reem Habayeb; trying on various types of traditional clothes at Widad Kawar’s home; and many more wonderful shared times.
As ACOR’s mission matures, my experiences have become more profound, as I witnessed last year at Hesban, north of Madaba. I was on a tour with several ACOR Board members and we met up with a group of team members from ACOR’s Temple of the Winged Lions project in Petra, to see the Hesban site. As I walked down from the top after the tour, I was following two women from Petra who stopped, bent over, and picked up some pieces of pottery, discussing their characteristics with interest. This is remarkable, first that women worked on an excavation in Petra, that they learned and took an interest in pottery, that they organized a trip out of Petra to visit Hesban (having never left Petra), and that at their own initiative they were inquisitive about the differences between Petra’s and Hesban’s pottery. This is ACOR at work. This is dig directors (Bert and Sally de Vries, Sten LaBianca, Chris Tuttle, to name a few) making a difference in the lives of people who live near the sites; dig directors who have taken the time to train, employ, care, and nurture local citizens so that their lives change in Hesban, Umm al-Jimal, and Wadi Musa. This is turning archaeology into a tool for economic development, not just a colonialistic one-time dig for artifacts, then back to the museum, leaving the community without creating any value.
This is a major source of the pleasure and pride I receive from ACOR. This and the laughs, stories, friends, and family engagement that makes ACOR such a wonderful experience for me and my family. This is why Jody and I decided to include ACOR as a beneficiary in our will. This is why I spend time on the ACOR Board and why I travel to Board meetings and cities around the United States each year. For me, ACOR is a rare source of fun, joy, giving back, and helping Jordan.
Randolph B. Old, ACOR Board President