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.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Jordan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

The Middle East is a paradox. Located at the cultural crossroads between east and west, the region nowadays tends to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, b…

16 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
Middle Eastern majesty: 17 beautiful pictures of Jordan

Middle Eastern majesty: 17 beautiful pictures of Jordan

We chose Jordan as one of the top destinations to visit in 2016, and after looking at these stunning photographs from Picfair's best photographers, you'll und…

31 Oct 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Twenty places to make you feel insignificant

Twenty places to make you feel insignificant

French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said: “Travelling makes one modest – you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”. With this in mind, here a…

27 Aug 2014 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month