Modern meets tradition at the camel races in wadi rum, jordan. A Bedouin rides a camel in a camel race in the desert of Wadi Rum on July 16th, 2009 in South Jordan. Spectators from Jordan and Saudi Arabia follow in their truck the popular traditional bedouin sport. (Photo by Mark Abouzeid/Bedouin Heritage Project)
Over the past few weeks, much has been said about the latest bid by archaeologists, government officials and tourism experts to have Wadi Rum admitted to a prestigious group of natural heritage sites named UNESCO.
There can be little question that the protected zone’s unique landscapes, natural rock formations, flora and fauna justify warrant inclusion on the list.
That it remains in question whether the bid should be a single site application or mixed site, including cultural and environmental importance, is surprising.
Experienced real estate agents know that every culture has its own odor that reminds us of home.
In America, home sellers are told to stew apples before potential buyers arrive; in Italy, braising onions has the same effect. These are the scents that take us back to our childhood and help create our sense of comfort, safety and belonging. They are some of the most basic aspects of cultural identity.
In trying to understand any ethnicity, our olfactory senses have great importance…and yet they are invariably ignored by the tools used to represent culture: photos, video, recording, text and art. As foreign entrants, how can we identify and capture this most essential genome in the cultural DNA?
“When a child is born, the father goes into the desert in search of the largest scorpion he can find. The eldest woman slowly cooks the animal in a pan over an open fire until it melts like butter. This salve is massaged into the skin of the baby. The baby gets sick as a consequence of the scorpion venom but not enough to do it harm. I was bitten by a scorpion a few years ago and nothing happened. This is one of the traditional medicines of our people that is being lost.” Attayak