Hidden away in the hills near Madaba are hundreds of dolmens (prehistoric burial chambers) and menhirs (standing stones). Many are hard to access or of limited interest, but a couple of sites stand out.

On the road from Madaba towards Ma’in, if you fork left at an avenue of trees about 1km before Ma’in village, after about 5km you’ll come to Magheirat (or Magheighat). Lines of Neolithic standing stones crisscross the road here; up on the hilltop to the right is a largely unexcavated stone circle in a double ring.

Back at Ma’in village, if you turn left and head south through orchards into open country – increasingly covered with white dust from a nearby quarry – you’ll see, on the left in an unguarded field, a Neolithic standing stone known as Hajar al-Mansub, carved (in antiquity) on its reverse side as an enormous phallus. Theories abound as to its purpose and context.

For the full low-down, make contact with dolmen enthusiast Charl Al-Twal, owner of Madaba’s Mariam Hotel. He’ll happily explain more about the dolmen fields in the area, including the one by Al-Faiha village at remote Wadi Jadid/Jdeid, 10km southwest of Madaba – and he’ll be able to fix you up with taxi transport as well (roughly JD20 return). Alternatively Terhaal runs an afternoon cycling tour from Madaba to Mount Nebo which passes by Wadi Jdeid (from JD25/person), meeting at the Mariam first. Book ahead.

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