(The Temple of the Winged Lions)
The American Expedition to Petra (Utah University) started work on this site in 1974 and excavated it until 2005. Dr. Philip Hammond headed up the excavation for much of this time. The archeological team uncovered a number of statues of winged lions and also a wealth of other material as well as a famous eye idol.
This temple was dedicated to the supreme goddess of the Nabataeans, as suggested by the inscription found on the “Eye Baetyl” in the temple, which read: “the goddess of… son of…” This is a square limestone stele decorated with two eyes and a long nose, representative of the goddess and most likely utilized as an object of worship.
A temple designed for worshiping Al ‘Uzza, a pre-Islamic goddess closely associated with water, would allow for insight into both the religious aspect of water management and water’s relationship with Nabataeans in Petra.
Dr. Hammond published a report on the 1974-1990 seasons’ excavations (Hammond 1996) but the results of later fieldwork are no longer accessible. Scholars as well as Jordan’s Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism were worried that the lack of conservation on the site had severely threatened the survival of the temple.