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Jabal Qurma 2016 & 2017 Seasons In: Archaeology in Jordan Newsletter - 2016 and 2017 Seasons. Edited by John D.M. Green, Barbara A. Porter, and China P. Shelton. ACOR/The American Center of Oriental Research, Amman, 2018, pp. 3-4.

2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Archaeology in Jordan Newsletter: 2016 and 2017 Seasons
Edited by John D.M. Green, Barbara A. Porter, and China P. Shelton
© 2018 by ACOR – The American Center of Oriental Research
PO Box 2470
Amman, 11181, Jordan
November 2018
Original design by Jawad Hijazi
Layout by Starling Carter
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Cover image: Detail of wall painting from the Bayt Ras Tomb
(Orthographic photo: Soizik Bechetoille-Kaczorowski/Ifpo Amman)
ISBN: 978-0-578-41390-7
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
The Deposit Number at the National Library
(2018/5550/ د )
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
CONTENTS ىﻮﺘﺤﻤﻟا
ﻊﻗاﻮﻤﻟاو ﻊﻳرﺎﺸﻤﻟا ﺔﻄﻳﺮﺧ
ﺔﻣﺮﻗ ﻞﺒﺟ
ﺔﻴﻗﺮﺸﻟا ﺔﻳدﺎﺒﻟا / ﻲﻓﺎﻄﻗ يداو
ءادﻮﺴﻟا ءاﺮﺤﺼﻟا / ﺔﻴﺑﺮﻐﻟا ةﺮﺤﻟا
٤ ﺔﻧاﺮﺨﻟا
١٦٣ شﺎﺸ ُ
لﺎﻤﺠﻟا مأ
ﺲﻴﻗ مأ ﺔﻘﻄﻨﻤﻟ يﺮﺛا ﺢﺴﻤﻟا
ندرﻻا لﺎﻤﺷ عوﺮﺸﻣ
(ﺔﺒﻠﻳﻮﻗ) ﻼﻴﺑأ
سار ﺖﻴﺑ
ﻞﺤﻓ ﺔﻘﺒﻃ
٢٧ ﺔﻤﺤﻟا يداو
نﻻﺰﻐﻟا ما ﺔﺑﺮﺧ
ﻲﺑﺮﻐﻟا ﻲﻟﺎﻤﺸﻟا ﻊﺑﺮﻟا ،شﺮﺟ عوﺮﺸﻣ
يﺮﺛا شﺮﺟ عوﺮﺸﻣ
ﺔﻴﻗﺮﺸﻟا شﺮﺟ تﺎﻣﺎﻤﺣ
ﺔﻴﻣاد ﻞﺗ
ﺐﻴﻌﺷ يداو
قﻮﻄﻤﻟا ﻞﺒﺟ
يواﺮﺘﺒﻟا ﺔﺑﺮﺧ
ﻲﻧﺎﻣوﺮﻟا تﺎﻳرﻮﺤﻟا ﻞﻴﺒﺳ :نﺎﻤﻋ
يﺮﻴﻤﻋ ﻞﺗ
ﻲﻓﺎﻘﺜﻟا ﻲﺛاﺮﺘﻟا نﺎﺒﺴﺣ عوﺮﺸﻣ
ّﻴﺨﻤﻟا ﺔﺑﺮﺧ
لﻮﻠﺟ ﻞﺗ
ﻲﻤﻴﻠﻗا يﺮﺛا ﺎﺑدﺄﻣ ﻒﺤﺘﻣ
رﺪﻨﻜﺳا ﺔﺑﺮﺧ
ﺔﻋﻮﻟﺎﺑ ﺔﺑﺮﺧ
ﻲﻓﺎﺼﻟا رﻮﻏ
ﺖﻴﻤﻟا ﺮﺤﺒﻟا عﺎﻗ ﻰﻟإ ﺔﺜﻌﺒﻟا
٢ ةﺮﻴﻬﺟ ةﺮﺣ
ﺪﻌﻴﺴﻣ ةرﺎﻜﺷا : ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
ﺔﺠﻌﺑ :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا ﺔﻘﻄﻨﻤﻟ ﻲﺟﻮﻟﻮﻛرأﻮﻴﺠﻟا ﺢﺴﻤﻟا
ﺔﻴﻣﻼﺳﻻا ﺎﻀﻴﺑ عوﺮﺸﻣ :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
تﻼﻗﺎﻋ يداو :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
نﺎﺒﺴﻴﺳ مأ :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
ﺮﻳﺪﻟا :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
ﺔﺣﺎﻄﻣ يداو :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
يﺮﺛا ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا قﺮﺷ لﺎﻤﺷ عوﺮﺸﻣ
يﺮﺛا ﻲﻟﺎﻤﺸﻟا ﻞﺘﻟا عوﺮﺸﻣ
ﺔﺤﻨﺠﻤﻟا دﻮﺳا ﺪﺒﻌﻣ :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
ةﺪﻤﻋا عرﺎﺷ :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
ﺖﻨﺒﻟا ﺮﺼﻗ :ءاﺮﺘﺒﻟا
لﺪﻧﺮﻏ ﻦﻴﻋ
ﻦﻔﻟا ﻰﻠﻋ ﻢﺋﺎﻘﻟا يﺮﺨﺼﻟا ﻊﻤﺘﺠﻤﻟا :مر يداو
ﻼﻳأ عوﺮﺸﻣ : ﺔﺒﻘﻌﻟا
ﻢﻫﺎﺴﻤﻟا لﺎﺼﺗﻻا تﺎﻣﻮﻠﻌﻣ
11 MUSHASH 163
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Visualization by Thomas Paradise
John D.M. Green, Barbara A. Porter, and China P. Shelton
The first edition of the “Archaeology in Jordan
Newsletter appeared in the
American Journal of
in 1991 with the intention of presenting
recent fieldwork conducted in Jordan to a broad
academic audience. The series was initiated by
the then ACOR director, Bert de Vries. From that
time, the newsletter was published annually (1991—
2008) and bi-annually (2010—2016) resulting in 22
editions published within the
, all of which are
available as open content online. Subsequent
editors after de Vries also came from ACOR or
were closely aliated.
s regional newsletters
are an integral part of its history, coming to an
end in 2016. To continue this important tradition
Archaeology in Jordan Newsletter
, or
short, is relaunched here as an open-access
online publication through ACOR. It is intended to
serve as a platform for recent archaeological and
cultural heritage management projects. Ocial
and complete reports from project directors
continue to be published in the
Annual of the
Department of Antiquities of Jordan (ADAJ)
This edition presents reports on projects that
took place in Jordan between January 2016 and
December 2017. As in prior editions, reports are
generally organized from north to south by region
(map on p. 1). In all, there are 50 projects with a
wide range of periods and regions represented,
and 89 listed contributors. There is a strong cohort
of projects focused on prehistory in the Eastern
Desert region of Jordan, the Early Bronze Age in
various parts of the country, and numerous projects
in the Petra region focusing on the Nabataean/
Roman through the Islamic eras. While the number
of projects being undertaken in Jordan has not
changed much over the past decade, there has
been a trend in recent years towards shortened
or alternating seasons within smaller areas of
excavation. This can be related in many cases to
the financial and logistical challenges faced by
project directors due to the combined impact of
rising expenses and cuts in funding for research and
grants. Nevertheless, major achievements continue
to be made. Some key discoveries presented in
this edition include the unusual Chalcolithic tailed
ossuaries at Harrat Juhayra as reported by Sumio
Fujii, the discovery of marble statuary on the Petra
North Ridge by Tom Parker and Megan Perry, and
the report on the elaborate Roman era painted
chamber at Bayt Ras by Jehad Haron and Claude
Vibert-Guige (cover image). Notable also is the
first report on maritime archaeology in the
, with
the presentation of findings from the early Islamic
harbor at ancient Ayla by Ehab Eid, Sawsan Al
Fakhri, and Islam Sleim.
The editors recognize that all authors acknowledge
the support and partnership of the Department
of Antiquities (DOA) of Jordan. Due to the short
length of these entries, many expressions of
thanks and acknowledgment are omitted for the
sake of brevity. During the time these field projects
were undertaken, the Director-General was H.E.
Dr. Monther Jamhawi, to whom all contributors
expressed their thanks. Not all specific funding
agencies mentioned by project directors are
acknowledged for the sake of being concise. Of
course every project relies on funding and support,
often from their own institutions as well as from
other sources. It is appropriate here to thank all
who support these endeavors.
This newsletter was produced by ACOR and funded
through the ACOR Cultural Heritage Fund and
ACOR’s Publication Fund. Layout and editing were
finalized by freelance designer Jawad Hijazi and
Starling Carter of ACOR. The electronic version of
this newsletter is intended to be easily accessible
for those interested in knowing about current
archaeological work in Jordan. Many projects have
websites, and links are provided where possible.
A considerable number of projects can also be
found on Facebook. For more information on the
projects, please contact the authors directly (see
list on pages 100–101 for contact information).
All figures are courtesy of the individual project
directors unless otherwise noted.
For further information on AIJ and links to past
newsletters, please visit: https://www.acorjordan.
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Jabal Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project seeks
to examine settlement and subsistence practices in Jordan’s
north-eastern basalt desert from the Palaeolithic up to the
present day, through survey and excavation in the Jabal Qurma
region, some 30 km east of Azraq.
Our surveys in the area have identified many hundreds of burial
cairns of dierent shapes and sizes. Fieldwork in 2016 and 2017
focused on the excavation of a number of these cairns (cf.
Akkermans and Brüning 2017). Investigation of cairns is not always
easy. An unfortunate (predominantly modern) development
is the very considerable looting of tombs. Other constraints
relate to matters of skeletal preservation (often poor) and the
palimpsest of contents resulting from the continual reuse of the
tombs. Often the reuse could only be accomplished through
disturbing or even obliterating older burials in the mounds.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that the burials in the desert are
often notoriously dicult to date. The earliest securely dated
cairns in the Jabal Qurma basalt uplands belong to the late
3rd millennium B.C., while many more cairns date to more recent
historical periods. The custom of constructing cairns for burial
seems to have ended in the Jabal Qurma range around the
3rd century A.D., although many preexisting cairns received new
interments long after that.
Basically there are three types of cairns: ring cairns, tower tombs,
and cist graves. The ring cairns, up to 10 m in diameter and 2 m
Fig. 1. Ring cairn in the Jabal Qurma region, with its typical conical shape (Photo: Peter Akkermans)
Peter M.M.G. Akkermans
Leiden University
Fig. 2. A partially intact tower tomb in the Jabal Qurma region (Photo: Peter Akkermans)
in height, had an oval, corbelled burial chamber in the center, surrounded by an outer ring of
large basalt boulders. The area between the burial chamber and the outer ring was entirely
filled in with basalt stones, giving these cairns their typical conical shape (Fig. 1). Inside the burial
chamber were the skeletal remains of one or more individuals, often accompanied by some
jewelry made of stone, faience, glass, bronze, or iron.
The second type consists of tower tombs: relatively monumental round structures up to 5 m in
diameter and 1.5 m high, which dier from the other cairns by their distinct tower-like shape
and their clear, straight facade made of large, flattened basalt slabs (Fig. 2). Each tower was
solidly filled in with basalt boulders, except for the small, corbelled burial chamber covered
with capstones in its center. Although in most cases the chamber had been breached, some
human bones and grave goods (beads, earrings) were still in and around it. The towers tend to
have large numbers of Safaitic inscriptions and petroglyphs in their immediate surroundings. A
number of radiocarbon dates suggest a date for their construction between the 2nd century
B.C. and the 1st century A.D., although they appear to have been reused repeatedly for burial
in later periods.
The third type of cairn consists of rectangular cist graves, usually attached to tower tombs. The
cairn graves were up to 2.7 m long, 1.5 m wide, and 1 m high, had carefully constructed dry-
stone walls, and their interiors were entirely filled with rocks. Underneath the piles of stone were
the skeletal remains of one or more individuals in crouched positions. Finds included necklaces
made of colorful stone, glass paste, and shell, as well as rings made of bronze and iron. One cist
grave had several Seleucid bronze coins, one of which could be securely dated to the reign of
Antiochus IX (114–95 B.C.). Cist graves remained into use until the second century A.D.
P.M.M.G. Akkermans and M.L. Brüning. 2017. “Nothing But Cold Ashes? The Burial Cairns of Jabal
Qurma, North-Eastern Jordan.”
Near Eastern Archaeology
80: 132–139.
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
During June 2017 the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project
(EBAP) completed the excavation of SS-1, a 5 m diameter circular
structure on the south slope of Mesa 7 in the Wadi al-Qattafi,
some 60 km east of Azraq in the Black Desert. SS-1 experienced
a history of intermittent occupation and renovation of several
hundred years or more during the Late Neolithic period (ca.
6,900–5,000 calBC). Phase 1 consisted of a thick circular wall
made of basalt slabs laid horizontally, possibly built during the
earlier part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC) period, although
no datable evidence was recovered; it is possible that there was
an opening to the north, later sealed, leaving a chord in the
otherwise circular geometry of the building (dotted line in Fig. 3).
The interior of the Phase 1 building dug down into the bedrock,
and several deep fire pits excavated along the northern wall
reached depths of around 30 cm. Basalt slabs set on edge were
placed against the inside of wall 001 (locus 002, in tan color
in Fig. 3). It is not clear yet if this represents a second phase of
occupation and renovation. A roof covered the eastern half of
the building, possibly made of organic material that utilized
beams that spanned the center of the building, resting on the
northern, central, and southern pillars (light gray shading in Fig. 3),
providing shelter over only half of the interior. This reconstruction
is supported by the absence of weathering on flint artifacts in
the roofed part and heavily patinated artifacts in the unroofed
area. It is possible that during this occupational period two
Fig. 3. Left: Overhead view of SS-1 at the end of the 2016 season (Photo: Y. Rowan and A. Hill). Right: Top
plan of SS-1, showing various features including Phase 1 wall 001, Phase 2 wall 002 (tan shading), roofed
area over the eastern half (light gray shading), and the doorway (dark gray shading) (Drawing: M. Kersel
and G. Rollefson)
Gary Rollefson
Whitman College
Yorke Rowan
University of Chicago
Alexander Wasse
Yeditepe University
Morag Kersel
DePaul University
nested plaster basins were made on the floor near the western wall (locus 036 in Fig. 3), and a
plaster lined pit (locus 072) 55 cm in diameter and 24 cm was cut deep into the bedrock.
In a succeeding phase, dating to ca. 6400–6200 calBC (Rollefson et al. 2017: Table 1), a sporadic
pavement was installed over the accumulated sediment above the bedrock floor. A doorway
was created in the eastern wall leading down from ground level to a threshold stone (dark gray
shading in Fig. 3). A hearth outlined by small basalt blocks (locus 061 in Fig. 3) against the wall
had fires hot enough to severely crack the upright slabs of the 002 slabs.
The next phase followed another paving of the area under the roof, and it is probably at this
time that abutments were added to the exterior sides of the doorway (loci 058 and 059),
creating an early example of a “Georgian portico” feature. This appears to be the last major
period of occupation, but the absence of radiocarbon dates leaves its duration unknown. In
Phase 5 — probably in the first half of the 6th millennium B.C. — the roof no longer seems to
have been in place, and the use of this structure was not intensive, as is shown by the limited
number of artifacts, animal bone, and the absence of any hearths. Phase 6 represents the post-
abandonment of SS-1, when the mound of collapsed walls and sediment may have been used
to place a burial cist, now poorly preserved.
The character of SS-1 suggests it was not a dwelling, but instead served as a work place for the
inhabitants of five to six smaller structures surrounding it (Fig. 4). Looting after 2016 has shown
these structures to be rooms about 2.5 x 1.75 m in size, suitable as sleeping chambers for a group
of kin-related households. This configuration might indicate a social structure not witnessed
elsewhere in the region. Much more excavation and analysis must be undertaken before this
question can be resolved.
Rollefson G., Y. Rowan, and A. Wasse. 2014. “The Late Neolithic Colonization of the Eastern Badia
of Jordan.”
46(2): 285–301.
Rollefson G., A. Wasse, Y. Rowan, M. Kersel, M. Jones, B. Lorentzen, A. Hill, and J. Ramsay.
2017. The 2016 Excavation Season at the Late Neolithic Structure of SS-1 on Mesa 7, Black Desert.
2/17: 19–29.
Fig. 4. Overhead view of
the SS-1 cluster; SS-3 and
SS-7 were looted in the
post-season, revealing
small elliptical buildings,
possibly functioning as
sleeping rooms
(Photo: A.C. Hill)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Western Harra Survey Project is investigating late prehistoric
settlements, from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (7th
millennium–early 3rd millennium B.C.), in the arid harra region of
northeastern Jordan—the so-called Black Desert. The research
area covers a rough square of over 1,000 km² between the towns
of Azraq and Safawi, divided into four targeted regions selected
for detailed fieldwork investigation (Fig. 5). These regions are
representative of the dierent types of landscape found in the
harra: A) undulating steppe carpeted by a dense layer of basalt
blocks; B) large wadi (valley) systems surrounded by pockets of
basalt outcrops; C) large
(mud flats) within areas otherwise
similar to A; and D) basaltic hilly areas crossed by small wadis. The
aim of the project is to give a holistic picture of the region’s past
human landscape through a diachronic approach to the study
of settlement systems and socio-economic activities, according
to the environmental context and available resources. This is
being carried out with an emphasis on material dating evidence
and the categorization of site types through comparisons with
their appearances on satellite imagery from a remote sensing
investigation that identified nearly 2800 sites and structures.
Following a first survey in 2015, a second short fieldwork season
was carried out in September 2017. We investigated 20 basalt
features—especially those known as “wheels” and “encircled
enclosure clusters”—to be able to more precisely specify
the properties of these site forms. The preliminary lithic study
identified large quantities of raw material in Region B, and
Fig. 5: Aerial image indicating
the area of the survey, which
comprises over 1,000 km²
between the towns of Azraq and
Marie-Laure Chambrade
CNRS, Archéorient
Stefan L. Smith
University of Ghent
showed that while some of the sites contain material of the Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age, the
majority were at least first occupied during the Late Neolithic (Imad Alhussain, pers. comm.).
These conclusions are currently being synthesized with the ongoing OSL dating of sediment
samples that were taken at five dierent sites using a process recently successfully employed at
Wisad Pools (Athanassas et al. 2015). By collecting from both “wheels” and “encircled enclosure
clusters”, any clear dierence in dates between the two site types should be identifiable, tying
into one of this project’s main goals of enabling rapid dating of sites across the wider region by
remote sensing.
Additionally, the 2017 seasons work emphasized the natural environment and the identifying
of o-site features related to landscape building. We focused on methods of traversing the
harra, a crucial issue as travelling in the region is made dicult due to the dense cover of
basalt boulders. Apart from the open spaces of the qe’an (singular: qa’a) and the corridors
made by wadi valleys, paths need to be created in order to allow for easy and speedy travel.
We identified several such paths, clearly arranged by the deliberate moving of basalt boulders.
Some are several kilometers long while others are very short, for example from a site to a nearby
qa’a or wadi. In this case, paths up or down slopes seem to be arranged with some kind of
steps” (Fig. 6). We believe these paths to be ancient, possibly contemporaneous to the visited
sites in some cases. Their study will be a priority of the next season, as well as investigating
sources of raw material and continuing the OSL sampling methodology by collaborating with
Dr. Dimitri Vandenberghe of the University of Ghent Geology Department.
Athanassas, C.D., G.O. Rollefson, A. Kadereit, D. Kennedy, K. Theodorakopoulou, Y.M. Rowan,
and A. Wasse. 2015. “Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating and spatial analysis of
geometric lines in the Northern Arabian Desert.”
Journal of Archaeological Science
64: 1–11.
Project website:
Fig. 6. Probable ancient ‘stepped’ pathway found during surveys
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
In 2016, the Epipalaeolithic Foragers in Azraq Project (EFAP)
conducted excavations at Kharaneh IV, located approximately
1 km south of Qasr Kharaneh in the Azraq Basin. The
archaeological sequence at Kharaneh IV spans the Early
and Middle Epipalaeolithic (approx. 20,000–18,600 B.P.), and
contains dense deposits of lithic and faunal material. The site is
approximately 21,000 m2, making it the largest Epipalaeolithic
site in the Levant. Kharaneh IV was originally surveyed by
Andrew Garrard and Nicholas Stanley-Price and subsequently
excavated by Mujahed Muheisen in the 1980s. Research by EFAP
at Kharaneh IV set out to further explore the deposits reported
by Muheisen and continue the analysis of this site. Excavations
at Kharaneh IV in 2008–2010, 2013, and 2015 were the first stages
of work by EFAP to reconstruct the nature of prehistoric (Late
Pleistocene) occupation of the site and reconstruct the local
palaeoenvironment (Maher, et al. 2016). At the end of the 2010
season we discovered two hut structures, which are among the
oldest evidence of habitation structures in the Levant. In 2013,
we returned to the site to map and excavate one of these hut
features, Structure 1, and discovered a potential third structure
during the course of these excavations (Fig. 7). Excavations
from 2015 to 2016 focused on exposing, mapping, and initial
excavation of Structure 2.
Fig. 7. Location of three structures identied in the Early Epipalaeolithic deposits of Kharaneh IV (image from
2013 excavation season)
Danielle A. Macdonald
The University of Tulsa
Lisa A. Maher
University of California,
Excavations during the 2016 field season uncovered the western boundary of Structure 2, exposing
the complete structure (minus the southern boundary, which is disturbed by rodent activity). The
deposits associated with the structure show that it was burned after abandonment and was
subsequently capped with a sandy yellow/orange sediment with a low artifact density. Deposits
with a low artifact density are rare for the site, suggesting that these deposits are not part of
an occupation area but represent sediment that cap or close the hut structure, intentionally
brought to the site. Underneath the orange sandy deposit is an organic-rich, burnt dark brown
sediment. These burnt deposits are similar to the ones discovered at the top of Structure 1 and
are thought to represent the burnt superstructure of the hut.
While excavating, a human burial was discovered in association with Structure 2 (Fig. 8). The
burial was found just under the organic-rich deposits of the burnt superstructure, suggesting
that the body was placed on the floor of the structure prior to burning. The interred individual
is an adult woman, placed in a flexed position, oriented with her head to the west. The position
of the burial within the structure suggests a meaningful connection between the inhabitants of
Kharaneh IV and the built environment.
The unique site of Kharaneh IV raises numerous interesting questions for future research, particularly
regarding the intensity of occupation of large Epipalaeolithic sites prior to the Natufian period.
The excavation of Kharaneh IV will help us understand how the changing landscape during the
Late Pleistocene aected land-use and settlement patterns during the Epipalaeolithic period
(c. 20,000–16,000 B.P.). The massive size of the site, as well as the presence of huts and human
burials suggests that Kharaneh IV was a significant place within the landscape during the
Early Epipalaeolithic. Future excavations will continue to explore the use of indoor and outside
spaces, the nature of habitation at the site, and how Kharaneh IV fits into broader patterns of
social interaction across the Levant.
Maher, Lisa A., D.A. Macdonald, A. Allentuck, L. Martin, A. Spyrou, and M.D. Jones. 2016. “Occupying
wide open spaces? Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherer activities in the Eastern Levant.”
396: 79–94.
Project website:
Fig. 8. Female burial within
Structure 2 at Kharaneh IV
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Early Neolithic site of Mushash 163 is located about 40 km
east of Amman on the western edge of the northeastern Badia.
It was discovered in autumn 2012 as part of the Qasr Mushash
Survey project and excavated in the years 2014–2017.
The results indicate the site as a settlement of the late PPNA
(9800–8600 calBC) and early PPNB (8600–8200 calBC) with
traces of a later settlement phase of the late PPNB (7500–6900
calBC) and/or the early Late Neolithic period (6900–6400
Mushash 163 is a rather small settlement of 60 m east–west x 45
m north–south in size, located about 200 m southwest of the
Early Islamic site of Qasr Mushash. Geomagnetic prospections
in 2013 revealed more than 30 round structures. During the
short field seasons six trenches were opened. Altogether,
remains of eight buildings were uncovered. In the beginning,
work concentrated on the soundings 1-North and 1-South
in the northern part of the settlement. Here, a total of three
circular structures were partially exposed, of which no. 1 and
no. 2 belong to the semi-subterranean building type which has
walls also deepened into the natural soil. Structure 3 is situated
stratigraphically above these two houses. The building has a
small corridor-like gangway in the south, which is connected
to another, only partially preserved round or oval structure. The
interior of Structure 3 includes several upright standing stones,
of which an arrow-shaped stone in front of the western interior
facade is the most striking feature (Fig. 9).
Fig. 9a. Mushash 163, sounding 1-South, Structures 2 (to the right) and 3 (to the left), view from the east
(photo: Th. Urban). Fig. 9b (inset). Sounding 1-South, arrow-shaped stone (photo courtesy of DAI / K. Bartl)
Karin Bartl
German Archaeological
Institute, Orient Department
In sounding 2, the western part of another semi-subterranean building was recorded, and in
sounding 3 a pit was uncovered. Sounding 4 has very complex architecture, consisting of several
interconnected semicircles. Several upright standing stones in an east–west aligned row mark
this complex and may have served as a substructure for a roof (Fig. 10). On the southern edge of
the area, a burial in a flexed position was covered by a row of stone slabs. Two small stemmed
cups and a pestle made of basalt were found outside the grave close to the head. According to
two radiocarbon analyses, the burial dates to the 2nd/3rd century A.D., i.e. to the Roman period.
In sounding 5, two phases of use could be documented. The younger level consists of several
small semicircles of unworked stones, the older level is characterized by the negative impression
of a large circular building. This was originally cut deep into the virgin soil, but apparently at a
later date the stones of this building were removed. The entire area of the original wall was filled
with black ashy soil.
The finds are mainly characterized by large quantities of silex flakes and a number of tools.
Among them, small projectile points of the Khiam and Helwan type form the most abundant
groups. Two flint daggers from the surface indicate a Late Early Neolithic (LPPNB) to Late
Neolithic reuse of the site.
The faunal remains consist mainly of bones of gazelle, cattle, equids, canids, and felines. The
palaeobotanical finds include tamarisk, pistachio and gramineae (grasses). According to
previous analyses, all animal and plant species are wild forms.
The previously available radiocarbon data are consistent to ca. 8900 and 8300/8200 calBC
This period has so far been documented at very few sites (such as Wadi Jilat 7). The results of the
work in Mushash 163 therefore form an important supplement to the current state of knowledge.
Whether the site was a temporarily used hunting station or a permanently populated place, is
a question that must remain open for the time being.
Fig. 10. Mushash 163,
Sounding 4, Structures 5
and 6, view from the south
(photo courtesy of DAI/
Th. Urban)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
This report presents the field project results of the Umm el-Jimal
Archaeological Project (UJAP) between 2016 and 2017. This work was
conducted in partnership with USAID SCHEP; the Pax Foundation
and Gerda Henkel Stiftung; NORAD - Birzeit and Bergen Universities;
and the Clean Water Institute of Calvin College.
The Interpretive Trail, a continuous loop linking the West Entry Park
to the Interpretive Center, was completed. 20 of 33 point-of-interest
signs were designed, locally produced, and installed.
The West Entry Park, located between the Commodus Gate and the
village business center, planned as a bridge between community
and antiquities, was prepared by preliminary archaeological study
and clearing of collapse debris. Khammash Architects created the
design using green space to integrate archaeological elements into
a peaceful retreat for residents and tourists.
The UJAP began preliminary work on comparative study, conservation,
and presentation of three churches—West, Southwest, and Julianos
including C14 analysis of mortars, documentation of stratigraphy, and
stone-for-stone 3D rendering of the West Church (Fig. 11). Through a
Memorandum of Understanding, UJAP also advised the Department
of Antiquities in its conservation activities in the Cathedral.
Preparations for the Interpretive and Hospitality Center at House
119 included planning the museum, design by Khammash Architects,
and agreeing on division of responsibility between the Ministry of
Tourism and Antiquities (structural repairs) and the UJAP (build-out
Bert de Vries
Calvin College
Fig. 11. West Church 3D Rendering (Graphics by Mais al-Hadad and Dana al-Farraj)
of museum and hospitality facilities). A replication of the Anastasios Decree, reproduced from
originals at Qasr Hallabat and Umm el-Jimal by technicians working with Thomas Weber, was
installed on a purpose-built wall in the museum inscription garden.
For the Ancient Water System Reactivation Project, begun in 2014 to supplement municipal
water, five reservoirs were cleared and prepared for reuse. Complete hydrological field studies
and hydraulic design were launched in partnership with the Clean Water Institute of Calvin
College, and a Digital Elevation Model was created from drone photographs by Mars Robotics
of Jordan. Preliminary activation included the irrigation of municipal green spaces.
Conservation, as part of the USAID SCHEP Project, included training of local employees as site
managers whose certification enabled continued employment by the Department of Antiquities.
Production of signs included training in content writing and graphic layout; comprehensive design
that meets display, durability, and vandalism-resistant standards; and printing, manufacture,
and installation—all done locally.
Fig. 12. Umm el-Jimal foldout
Brochure Map (map created
by R. Linnaea Cahill)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Three Jordanians with architecture degrees were trained in archaeological and heritage work,
including documentation of ancient structures, graphic and facility design, and construction
oversight. They continued to assist after their training and now have extensive professional
The UJAP held community interest meetings to plan the incorporation of Hand by Hand Heritage,
a local company for the performance of site management, tourism services, and heritage-
themed microbusinesses. For that and water reactivation, the UJAP administered a community
interest survey in the fall-winter of 2017–2018.
UJAP tourism promotion for Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities included preparation of the
main Umm el-Jimal Site Visit Brochure in English and Arabic (Fig. 12). The UJAP also participated
in after-school heritage teaching for Jordanian and Syrian refugee school children. Initial
workshops were held to prepare for the writing of a Site Management Plan and assembly of
a World Heritage Monument Inscription Dossier. Articles on plaster analysis by Dr. Khaled al-
Bashaireh appeared in technical journals (Al-Bashaireh 2016), and Elizabeth Osinga defended
her University of Southampton Ph.D. thesis on the ceramics and stratigraphy of the House XVII–
XVIII Complex (Osinga 2017).
Al-Bashaireh, K. 2016. “Use of Lightweight Lime Mortar in the Construction of the West Church of
Umm el-Jimal, Jordan: Radiocarbon Dating and Characterization.”
, 58(3): 583–598.
Osinga, Elizabeth A. 2016.
The countryside in context: stratigraphic and ceramic analysis at Umm
el-Jimal and environs in northeastern Jordan (1st to 20th centuries AD)
. Ph. D. Thesis, University
of Southampton.
Project website:
The Gadara/Umm Qeis Hinterland Survey was initiated in 2010
by the German Archeological Institute. The project focuses on
a systematic survey and reevaluation of archaeological and
historical sites in the hinterland of ancient Gadara, ranging from
Palaeolithic to recent times (Bührig 2015). The survey area, which
is approximately 40 km2 and is bounded by the Yarmouk valley
in the north and the Wādī al-’Arab in the south. In the west,
the survey area extends to the plateau Ard al-’Alā and to al-
Mansūra in the east. The north-eastern survey area is part of
the Yarmouk Nature Reserve, established by the Royal Society
for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) in 2012.
The survey deals with questions of settlement topography,
landscape use and subsistence strategies. Around 530 sites
have been surveyed to date. The main goal of the investigation
is to set the ancient city complex of Gadara in relation to
the environment and resources in its hinterland. Settlement
dynamics and changes in climate of the region from Palaeolithic
to modern times are also being clarified.
The first field campaigns produced evidence of Palaeolithic,
Neolithic, Hellenistic-Roman and Islamic settlement traces as well
as significant new findings on trac routes, water management
systems, quarries, agriculture and economic land use as well as
the sacral significance of the settlement catchment area.
Fig. 13. Findspot SUQ 476. Overview, rock shelter in the survey area of the Yarmouk Forest Reserve
(photo courtesy of DAI Orient-Department/Hartl-Reiter)
Claudia Bührig
German Archaeological
Institute, Orient Department
Johannes Moser
German Archaeological
Institute, Commission for
Archaeology of
Non-European Cultures
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The 2016 and 2017 campaigns were concerned with the processing of material, documentation,
and short site visits. Fieldwork centered on the analyses of the stone tools. The survey yielded a
huge amount of lithic artifacts deriving from several hundred open-air sites and caves. Based
on typological criteria, the artifacts date to dierent periods within the Palaeolithic.
In 2016/17 we evaluated the stone tools from the survey. The first assessment of the lithic
material was that settlement in the surrounding area of Gadara/Umm Qeis began in the Early
Palaeolithic and continued probably into the Neolithic. The main purpose of assessing the lithics
from the survey was to identify artifact types and their chronological depth and to determine
the potential for further artifact analysis.
Selected studies in cooperation with the Natural Sciences Department of the German
Archaeological Institute (DAI) serve to clarify methodological approaches to climate research
and environmental archaeology with particular emphasis on anthropogenic influences. The
dendrochronological investigations carried out by Karl-Uwe Heußner in the surrounding oak
forests not only documented their growth curves, but also resulted in an age determination of
the recent Tabor oaks within a range of 120 to 250 years. Reinder Neef and Harald Kierschner
carried out the first floristic vegetation surveys in the Gadara/Umm Qeis region and the Yarmouk
Forest Reserve.
Bührig, C. “Gadara, Jordanien: Forschung und Capacity Building. Die Arbeiten der Jahre 2012 bis
e-Forschungsberichte 2015 des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts
Project website:
Fig. 14. Stone artifacts from the ´Gadara/Umm Qeis Hinterland Survey´. a. backed bladelet (medial
fragment), ndspot SUQ 38; b. pointed blade with bilateral retouch, ndspot SUQ 38 (© DAI Orient-
One much debated, but still open question is whether and
how ancient field systems and agricultural practices can be
reconstructed in the landscape. Soils and sediments can
geochemically store information about past human activities, while
strongly varying amounts of material culture (mainly pottery) on
current fields in Jordan very likely testify to certain human activities
of the past (e.g. manuring).
A proposal funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
and Fund for Scientific Research (FWF) conducted intensive,
systematic archaeological surveys in the hinterlands of Gadara/
Umm Qeis, Abila of the Decapolis, and Umm el-Jimal. These were
accompanied by systematic collections of soil samples, both from
the surface of the surveyed agricultural fields and olive groves, and
from soil and sediment profiles associated with the surveyed areas.
Results confirmed the premise that fields around these three sites
resemble largely stable land surfaces, although some short but
intense periods of sedimentation occurred in the 6th century A.D.
and during the Little Ice Age, between the 16th and 19th centuries
A.D., which were probably caused by heavy rains and earthquakes.
Preliminary results of the 2014 survey around Abila suggest that
a rather complex pattern of material culture is present on the
fields, but certain patterns are clearly discernible. For example,
biomarkers of pig excrements show a very strong correlation
with pottery distribution on the fields, indicating that the (mainly
classical, i.e. Late Roman and Byzantine) pottery is connected
with specific manuring related to pigs, and/or with pig herding. In
order to better understand this complexity, the spatial resolution of
soil sampling on selected fields was improved during a short field
season in 2017. While the collected pottery had been recorded at
a resolution of 50 m, such a level of detail was not yet available
for soil samples due to limits of lab analysis capacities. During the
re-sampling, soil samples were taken at a resolution of 100 m for
certain parts of the transects that had been surveyed earlier.
Fig. 15. Re-sampling
selected elds near
Bernhard Lucke
FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
Günther Schörner
University of Vienna
Bethany Walker
University of Bonn
Ladislav Smejda
Czech University of Life
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Abila was a Decapolis city 12 Roman miles east of Gadara (Umm
Qeis). The site evidences its most substantial occupation in the
Late Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods. However, since
the 1980s stratified remains have been excavated indicating
nearly continuous occupation from the Early Bronze to the
Abbasid periods (with some reuse of the site in the later Islamic
eras as well).
The central goals for the 2016 season of the Abila Archaeological
Project were: (1) To deepen the excavation in key squares in Area
AA on the North Tall in order to examine how the Byzantine,
Hellenistic, Iron and Bronze Age habitations extended east and
north on Tall Abil; (2) to continue the excavation of two Byzantine
churches (Areas G and E) in preparation for publication, and for
better presenting the churches for tourism; and (3) to excavate
a presumed “market-place” in the area adjacent to the basalt
road in Area B.
Area AA represents the history of Tall Abil from the Early Bronze
to the Abbasid periods. Along the northeast side of Area AA, a
fortified wall was uncovered and traced down 2.30 m, but the
bottom of the structure was not reached. Further excavation
and study during our 2018 season of excavation will hopefully
yield evidence of the use of the structure and the possible dates
of construction. At present, pottery findings seem to indicate
a date of construction during the Hellenistic period, although
more excavation is needed for firmer dating.
In addition, work was completed in Area AA Square 5, where
excavation was halted at what we believe is 60cm above
bedrock, based on findings in an adjacent previously excavated
David Vila
John Brown University
Fig. 16. Mosaic oor from the atrium of the Area G church (photo: CNRS)
square. Pottery from the lowest excavated levels dated to the Early Bronze Age, including Khirbet
Kerak ware.
After a hiatus of 12 years, three squares were opened in Area B, the “theater cavea,” in an
attempt to locate a presumed marketplace along the western ends of the black basalt road
that runs through the area. Many well-constructed walls running perpendicular to the basalt
road were located, but no floor surfaces were reached in 2016. Pottery finds ranged from the
Late Roman through the Abbasid periods.
The Area G church is an ecclesiastical structure comprised of a three-aisled, single-apsed
basilica with adjacent rooms located on the northeast end of Tall Umm al-Amad. The previous
two seasons of excavations (2012 and 2014) focused on the uncovering of a room on the south
side of the structure that may have served as diaconicon.
The 2016 season uncovered more of the space leading up to the church from the west, along
with clearing of the diaconicon’s western end. Three 4 x 4 m squares were opened west of the
diaconicon and the narthex space leading to three entrances that open to the central nave
and two side aisles. A final photo from Square 43, the central excavated square revealed a
mosaic floor surface (Fig. 16).
In Area E, excavations were conducted on the north side of the area following the mosaic paved
processional passage first exposed in 2014. On the northeast section of the area excavated
in 2016, a large wall was encountered that joined with what appears to be an apse structure
(Fig. 17). Further excavation will be needed to determine the exact nature of this structure, but
with nearly 12 courses of stones in situ, this structure will likely give us important evidence into
the nature of the occupation in Area E. At present excavators are suggesting that the apsed
structure, adjoining the main sanctuary of the Area E church is a baptistry, since one has not yet
been located in the Area E church.
Fig. 17. Eastern passageway along the Area E “baptistery” (photo: CNRS)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The town of Bayt Ras, located in northern Jordan, stands on the
site of ancient Capitolias, one of the ten cities of the Decapolis
League founded during the Hellenistic period. In November
2016, municipal work to expand a waste-water network led to
the accidental discovery of a Roman-period tomb next to a
boys’ school (see Fig. 19). Scholars have related this structure
with another burial chamber, discovered in 1973 underneath
the school. The newly discovered tomb is a hypogeal structure
with two burial chambers. The larger contains a large basalt
sarcophagus which holds human remains (Fig 18). The most
significant features of this tomb are the well-preserved paintings
and inscriptions on the walls and the ceiling of the largest
chamber, covering an area of approximately 62 m2. Based on
the inscriptions and wall paintings, the hypogeum was probably
constructed and painted in the 2nd century A.D.
The original tomb entrance was apparently intact and blocked
in antiquity. It was possible to investigate the tomb through
the hole created during the accidental discovery, made in
an area where the wall paintings had already collapsed. The
Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DOA), in partnership with
the Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of
Local Communities Project (USAID SCHEP), implemented by the
American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), Centre national
de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), l’Institut français du
Proche-Orient (IFPO), Italian National Institute for Environmental
Protection and Research (ISPRA), and Istituto Superiore per la
Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR), have been conducting
cleaning, conservation, geological survey, and documentation
Fig. 18. The painted chamber and sarcophagus, prepared for conservation, restoration, and documentation
Jehad Haron
American Center of Oriental
Claude Vibert-Guigue
Centre national de la
recherche scientifique
of the tomb since April 2017. The authors acknowledge the contributions of Giuseppe Delmonaco
(ISPRA team coordinator) and Giovanna De Palma (ISCR team leader) to these activities.
The walls of the painted chamber are without loculi. The basalt sarcophagus is adorned with
two lion heads and an uninscribed tabula ansata, intended to bear the name of the tomb
owner. Reused carved stones protect the lower part of the con. There is evidence of successive
phases of use in the tomb, including access post-dating the Roman period. A lead pipe coming
from the entrance wall continues in the southeast corner, at the height of a rock bench. A
passage in the northeast corner leads to a vestibule. From there, a small wall opening leads to
a space where bodies of the dead rested. The one-meter high and uninterrupted frieze running
on three walls includes close to 230 figures, 62 tagged by inscriptions in Greek letters. On the
south side appear a banquet scene, an enclosure wall, a long grape scroll, rural daily life scenes,
and buildings. Towards the east, stands a central scene of prime importance: Zeus Kapitolios
enthroned is flanked by Tyches (Fortunes of the city and of Caesarea Maritima). Three Graces as
well as a libation scene underline the god’s authority. On the left side, workers are busy around
tree trunks (see cover image for part of scene); on the right, are depicted in detail building
activities requiring animal transport (camels). This theme continues on the north wall, which on
its right side changes themes (libation scene, grouping of deities).
Many ancestral Greek deities intervene in circumstantial aspects: they banquet, they stand
together, and they remind the viewer of the religious context of the activities conducted by the
dierent corporations of workers for the Capitolias city inhabitants. The entrance wall presents
two mythological tall figures, of which only the Nile River figure is preserved. The magnificent
polychromy of the ceiling depicts five Nereids overlapping sea monsters in the company of
cupids, around a compartmentalized composition (zodiac signs and planets). The central
medallion reveals part of a quadriga (perhaps for Helios?). A painted rock cutting allowed for an
object to hang. The open passage at the northeast corner has one tall figure holding objects,
while above is a Nilotic scene.
The coexistence of Greek and Aramaic is rare, here enhanced by the workers tagged with words
written in the Aramaic language, but transcribed in Greek. Gathered in a hypogeum, three
main thematic elements—the landscape (myth foundation), the seascape (Nereids), and the
astrological composition (zodiac)—make the Bayt Ras discovery unique.
Fig. 19. Urban Bayt Ras context of the discovery (ancient East Capitolias necropolis)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Excavations at Pella (Tabaqat Fahl) took place in January and
February 2017, the twenty-ninth season of Sydney University work
at the site, and concentrated on three main areas, all previously
worked (Fig. 20).
South Field (Area XXXII): In the deep sounding (Trench XXXIIBB)
west of the Fortress Temple, excavations explored the Late Middle
Bronze I period (ca. 1800 B.C.) foundational deposits of what seems
likely to be a “Courtyard Palace” form of public structure, the
exact function of which remains a matter of continued debate. In
deep soundings below constructional surfaces, Early Bronze II (ca.
3000 B.C.) building remains of some grandeur were excavated,
and in smaller soundings below these, deposits containing later
prehistoric (ca. 5000–4000 B.C.) materials were encountered
before excavations concluded.
In a long (10 x 2 m) exploratory probe (Trench XXXIIFF) into the
northern face of the deep sounding northwest of the Fortress
Temple, the northern monumental entranceway to the Iron Age
Civic Building (see Fig. 21a for related object) was finally discovered
some 7 m north of 2015 baulks. Structural remains include a long
north–south border wall, flanked by rough stone paving and
plaster flooring on its exterior (west) side, accompanied by a line
of field-stone column bases positioned against the inner (east)
face. These structural remains are likely to be part of the east end
of a monumental entranceway into the Civic Building (Fig. 21b for
related object), lying perhaps 5 m further to the northwest.
Central Field (Area XXIII): In the central mound area (Trench XXIIID),
work continued on the Late Hellenistic town house excavations,
removing the last Late Roman deposits before exposing another
5 x 5 m area of the Late Hellenistic phase of the very large town
house, under excavation since 2011. Further evidence for the
Stephen Bourke
University of Sydney
Fig. 20. General view of the Khirbet Fahl tell, looking NW. The Area XXXII South Field is center left on the
tell edge, and the Area XXIII Central Field is center-right on the top of the tell.
extensive Hasmonean period (ca. 83/80 B.C.) destruction of the site was recovered. A deep
sounding sampled two earlier phases of Seleucid (2nd–1st century B.C.) occupation, but no
trace of Ptolemaic (3rd Century B.C.) occupation.
A new 5 x 7 m exposure (Trench XXIIIF) was opened about 15 m south of the main Hellenistic
period exposure, to examine a large complex of buildings, long suspected of being related to
the Mamluk-era mosque (Area XVII) excavated in 1982. This first exploratory trench aimed to
date the outer south wall of the complex (visible on the surface), and to begin exploring the
nature and sequence of the buildings within the complex. This season three walls (and two
rooms) of one major structure (featuring collapsed arches) were examined, displaying three
phases of construction and rebuilding, all dating to the Mamluk period, probably stretching
over the 13th–15th centuries A.D. Finds included two decorated bronze spoons (Fig. 21c) and
a pair of tweezers, and a complete small bronze “incantation” bowl, which together might be
characterized as a “medical” toolkit. The complex might be seen as a hospice, dedicated to the
welfare of travelers and the local populace.
Tell Husn East Summit (Area XXXIV): On the northeast corner of the Husn summit (Trench
XXXIVF), work continued south of the 3.6 m thick mudbrick circuit wall explored in 2013 and 2015,
concentrating on the lower two phases of Early Bronze I (EB I) architecture (ca. 3800–3400 B.C.),
both pre-dating the circuit wall and associated rubble-stone platforms. The penultimate EB
I phase of rectilinear architecture was built upon a huge east–west terrace wall, supporting
a substantial multi-roomed dwelling. The earliest architectural phase proved to be apsidal
(“sausage-shaped”) in form. While much of the interior of this dwelling remains under the standing
west baulk, associated exterior work surfaces, pits, postholes, channels and clay features were
exposed, many seemingly involved in olive processing. Below the EB IA deposits, traces of earlier
Chalcolithic period occupation (ca. 4000 B.C.) were detected in deep pits cut into the bedrock.
The 2017 excavations on Husn extend the EB occupational sequence back to 3800 B.C.,
suggesting more than a millennium of EB occupation on the Husn east summit, much of it
associated with massive stone architecture. Further work in the Middle and Late Bronze Age
Palatial Residence, and in the Iron Age II Civic Building above it, illustrates both the longevity
and sophistication of Pella during the Bronze and Iron Ages. The Hellenistic “town-house
excavations on the central tell underline the intensity of the Seleucid re-urbanization process in
the Decapolis cities, and the sophistication of urban life during this period. Finally, the strength
and importance of the Mamluk-era resettlement of Pella is underlined by the discovery of a
hospice-complex, associated with the previously known mosque.
Fig. 21a (top). Gray-green
steatite bowl fragment,
featuring carved palmettes.
From Iron II Civic Building de-
struction phase, ca. 850 B.C.
Fig. 21b (right). Rhodian
amphora. From Hellenistic
destruction, ca. 80 B.C.
Fig. 21c (bottom). Bronze
Spatulae, featuring molded
geometric decoration
on handle. From Mamluk
Building destruction, ca. 1350
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The third of three planned fieldwork seasons for La Trobe
University’s “Ice Age Villagers of the Levant: sedentism and
social connections in the Natufian period” project took place in
November and December 2016. The research involved renewed
excavations at the Early Natufian site of Wadi Hammeh 27
(Edwards 2013), dated to ca. 12,000–12,500 calBC, together
with an associated program of scientific survey and sampling
along the Jordan Valley. Reasoning that the accessible lower
deposits of Wadi Hammeh 27 constitute one the most important
resources at our disposal for evaluating the establishment of
settled village life in the southern Levant, the current project has
aimed to expose significantly more expanses of the site’s basal
deposits than had the original 1980s investigations.
The site comprises four constructional phases, of which the
upper phase 1 was the only one originally to undergo broad
clearance. The new operations were positioned under the part
of Structure 1 (phase 1) located in “plot XX F”. In 2014 (the first
season), excavations reached the phase 2 floor, revealing a
series of circles, platforms and other constructed stone features.
In 2015 (the second season), a new house was discovered in the
underlying phase 3 (upper). This ran inside the line of the overlying
Structure 1 but was about half its size and was oriented with
a northward facing entrance rather than the westward-facing
one of Structure 1. In 2016 (the third season), the basal floor of
Structure 3 was revealed (lower phase 3).
Proceeding deeper again, the phase 4 deposits were cleared to
the natural limestone substrate. It emerged that the area inside
the arc of Structure 3’s wall was studded with burial pits, so
that it appears that the house was founded to commemorate
these foundational burials. Outside (to the north) of the
Structure 3 perimeter wall, a complex stone feature (feature 20
= F.20) appeared to mark the internal burials inside the house,
reminiscent of the way that the stone-covered pit, F.16, was
Phillip C. Edwards
La Trobe University
Fig. 22. Bone shhook (RN 160365),
phase 4, Wadi Hammeh 27.
found to mark the adjacent F.8 burial in
the 1980s excavation of the ‘XX F sondage’.
Feature 20 was the fourth of a series of
superimposed platforms which, along with
a number of stone circles and other features
on the exterior surface, were rebuilt through
the entire lifetime of the settlement across
some 500 years. Feature 20 had a large
posthole in its center, and its capstones
covered a deep pit filled with material
(also like F.16). Three pits under Structure 3
yielded evidence of human inhumations.
The major find was a burial (feature 29)
containing two primary child inhumations:
Homo 9, found overlying Homo 10. Human
remains were also discovered in two other
pits (F.32 and F. 35). The individual in feature
32 was laid to rest with a remarkable cache
of long, gracile bone points, of a type
not previously found at the site (Fig. 23).
Two other finds from the 2016 season stand
out for their exclusivity. The first is a bone
fishhook (RN 160278; Fig. 22) from phase 4.
It is the first one found at Wadi Hammeh 27,
in a bone artifact assemblage numbering
over 550 specimens, and where fish
remains do not occur. The second piece
(RN 160420), an unfinished basaltic vessel,
is interesting from a technological point of
view. Amongst an assemblage of over 300 basaltic artifacts, it has provided the first sign that
basaltic artifacts were made on-site at Wadi Hammeh 27 and not always imported as finished
Edwards, P.C. (ed.). 2013.
Wadi Hammeh 27: an Early Natufian settlement at Pella in Jordan.
and History of the Ancient Near East
Vol. 59. Leiden: Brill.
Fig. 23. Elongate bone point (RN 160365) from the
Feature 32 burial pit (Phase 4, Wadi Hammeh 27)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Early Bronze Age (EBA) IV site of Khirbet Um al-Ghozlan sits
on a small knoll in the middle reaches of the Wadi Rayyan in
north Jordan (UTM 749729E, 3588534N). Although only 0.8 ha in
area, the site is surrounded by a distinctive enclosure built as a
double row of massive blocks across the entry to the site, and a
single row of medium stones around the rest of the steep-sided
knoll (Fig. 25).
Palumbo (1990) identified Khirbet Um al-Ghozlan as one of
several small, newly-founded, enclosure sites in the EB IV
settlement landscape. Other examples include Jabal Ruheil,
Dhahrat Um al-Marrar and Khirbet Meiyiteh. These are all small
sites (0.5–1.5 ha) that are situated on defensible positions, and
located in upland zones.
We suggest that these sites may have served as processing
centers for upland fruit crops such as olive and grape, and were
enclosed to protect seasonally-produced caches of high value
commodities, such as oil and wine.
To test this hypothesis, a small team from the British Museum
undertook excavations at Khirbet Um al-Ghozlan in February
and March 2017. The project was initiated in response to the
recent destruction of the northwest portion of the site by a
bulldozer, including part of the enclosure wall.
James Fraser
Nicholson Museum,
University of Sydney
Caroline R. Cartwright
Department of Scientific
Research, British Museum
Fig. 24. Photogrammetry model of Trenches 200 and 300 (by Ehab al-Jariri)
Four trenches were opened in two areas.
In Trenches 200 and 300, an architectural
complex preserved several courses high
was exposed against a bedrock shelf
(Fig. 23). A curved bin and two adjacent
square cells were likely storage features.
Twelve in-situ store jars were found
broken but mostly complete, as well as a
spouted vat for decanting liquids.
Trenches 100 and 400 were opened
against the inside face of the
monumental enclosure. Two walls defined
a rectangular area with a low, protruding
bin. This area was probably an animal
pen with a stone feeder trough. A deep,
natural basin in an adjacent bedrock
outcrop had been used as an EB IV dump.
Excavations indicate only short-
lived occupation before the site was
abandoned, leaving vessels in situ and
walls in place. There is no evidence
for architectural modification, and the
complex contained only primary surfaces.
No hearths or fireplaces were revealed,
and deposits failed to produce ashy
debris associated with domestic activity.
Few animal bones were found, although
the small assemblage contained mostly
ovicaprid remains. The large ceramic
corpus was dominated by narrow-
necked and hole-mouth storage jars.
Fig. 25. Plan of Khirbet Um al-Ghozlan showing
placement of trenches, area of recent destruction
(Surveyed by Guy Hazell and Ehab al-Jariri)
Few organic remains were recovered despite extensive flotation. However, by using scanning
electron microscopy for the identification of species, C. R. Cartwright identified small fragments
of charred olive pits, probably jift burned as fuel. In addition, all 14 wood charcoal samples were
identified as olive wood (
Olea europaea
Together, these data suggest that the site may have been seasonally occupied when olive
orchards were pruned and harvested on the surrounding hills, and enclosed to protect the cache
of high-value oil before its distribution through nearby settlement systems. The implication is
that so-called urban features such as fortification systems and specialized production were
reconfigured within local settlement networks in the EB IV period, and may have even laid the
foundations for the urban rejuvenation of the 2nd millennium B.C. Ongoing excavations are
planned as a joint project between the British Museum and the University of Sydney.
Palumbo, G. 1990.
The Early Bronze Age IV in the Southern Levant: Settlement Patterns, Economy, and
Material Culture of a ‘Dark Age
. Contributi e Materiali di Archeologia Orientale III. Roma: Università
di Roma ‘La Sapienza’.
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The work of the Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter
Project, which has been ongoing since 2011, continued in 2016
and 2017 (see Lichtenberger and Raja 2017 for a summary). In
2016, a fieldwork season was undertaken between July and
August and in 2017 a shorter study campaign was conducted
with the participation of specialists. In 2016, Trenches S–X were
excavated and preliminary reports are forthcoming (Fig. 26).
Work focused on clarifying research questions that evolved
around the mosaic hall on the south side of the Northwest
Quarter, the large filled-in cistern on top of the hill, the early
Islamic domestic contexts on the so-called Eastern Terrace,
housing on the southern slope, as well as the Middle Islamic
phases located on top of the hill.
One of the discoveries of the 2016 campaign was a Roman-
period cistern in Trench S. A Roman-period building had stood
on top of the cistern. The building and the cistern had been
completely destroyed and intentionally backfilled at a later
point in time. The building was a large monumental complex.
The staircase leading down into the cistern held polychrome
wall paintings underlining the importance of this structure. The
intentional and careful closure of the complex shows that it must
have been important. A sediment basin (Trench X), north of the
large multi-phase cistern was excavated. This was connected
Achim Lichtenberger
Westfälische Wilhelms-
Universität Münster
Rubina Raja
Aarhus University
Fig. 26. Plan of the Northwest Quarter with all excavated trenches 2012–2016 marked (image courtesy
of the Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project)
with a concrete floor that had been partly excavated in 2015 (Trench O). The sediment basin
is the oldest structure discovered north of the cistern, and it was reused in Byzantine times as
the floor of a later building. These discoveries connected with water management clearly show
that the Northwest Quarter developed much earlier than hitherto thought and that extensive
building activity took place there already in the 1st century A.D.
On the south slope, Early Islamic housing (Trench U) provided insights into the Umayyad settlement
in the Northwest Quarter. In contrast to the area next to the multi-phase cistern (Trench F) where
all the Byzantine buildings were destroyed and intentionally backfilled, it is now clear that parts
of the settlement further east remained in use until the earthquake of A.D. 749.
The continued excavation of the monumental Umayyad courtyard house (Trench V) on the east
terrace yielded the southwestern part and the entrance of this Early Islamic building complex.
The discovery of an earthquake victim in the Northwest Quarter also counts among the finds.
The remains of a young person were retrieved from debris of collapsed walls and soil in the
entrance corridor close to the door. Apart from this discovery, the destruction context oers
insights into ceramic types and other objects used immediately prior to the destruction caused
by the earthquake in A.D. 749. The continued excavation of the mosaic hall (Trench W) (Fig.
26) gave additional information about the construction of the hall, Umayyad re-use of the
building, and the earthquake destruction. The excavated northwest corner of the Middle Islamic
courtyard house (Trench T) attested to the multi-phase building history of this Middle Islamic
edifice and was a further step in subdividing and refining the chronology of the material culture
of the Middle Islamic period.
Lichtenberger, A. and R. Raja (eds). 2017.
Gerasa/Jerash: From the Urban Periphery
. Aarhus:
Fællestrykkeriet AUTRYK.
Fig. 27. Photogrammetric plan of the mosaic hall (image courtesy of
the Danish-
German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The LAJP examines the southwest district of Jarash over the
long durée with a primary research focus on the site’s Late
Antique and Early Medieval history (A.D. 300–1100). Previous
field seasons included a survey in 2011 and geophysics study
and excavation in 2015. In 2016, LAJP carried out a study season
of mainly ceramic material retrieved from the excavation in 2015.
In 2017, LAJP returned to the field to excavate five trenches and
to carry out a survey, a finds study, conservation of metal finds
(especially coins), and archaeobotanical studies. The following
text summarizes selected highlights from 2017.
The focus of excavation in 2017 was on areas that could bring
new information to our understanding of the city’s water supply,
street systems, and residential history. Trench 5 exposed the
southwest corner of the area’s main reservoir revealing several
phases of construction and use. Most significant are a series
of steps leading to a cave that predated the construction of
the reservoir (Fig. 28). Our examinations so far suggest a caustic
system (natural spring) in which water was retrieved manually
via the steps. The ceramic assemblage associated with the
Louise Blanke
University of Oxford
Fig. 28. Trench 5 showing steps
leading to cave (left side of
picture) and southwest corner of
a Roman-period reservoir (right
side of picture)
cave and steps suggest a construction date in the Hellenistic period. The staircase was blocked
and backfilled in the early Roman period before the construction of the reservoir.
Trench 6 explored a north–south running street, which can be traced over 300 m from the triple-
church complex to the hilltop in Jarashs southwest district. Our excavation revealed that in the
Abbasid period, the street was stripped to the level of its Roman period surface and two parallel
east–west running walls blocked the southernmost extent of the street. These walls mark the
second phase of encroachment—in Late Antiquity, residential structures were enlarged onto
the street thus reducing its width from 8 x 4 m—but only in the Abbasid period did the street go
out of use. The space between the two walls was used to dispose household rubbish, such as
animal bones and broken glass and ceramic vessels.
The partial excavation of two residential structures (Trenches 7 and 9) confirmed that Jarash’s
southwest district saw a major refurbishment after the earthquake in A.D. 749. Large quantities
of ceramics dating to the Abbasid period were retrieved from Trench 7. The excavation of Trench
9 exposed a section of a room that went out of use after a devastating conflagration. The
room comprised a stamped clay floor, stone walls, and a flat roof made from wooden beams
that supported a thick layer of packed clay. The fire caused the beams to burn and the roof
to collapse, thus sealing all material relating to the final use of the room. This material included
thousands of carbonized lentils, wheat, barley, and a few figs and dates. The lentils were found
in a large pile on top of a stone platform, which implies that they were kept in a sack that
disintegrated in the fire. The grain and fruit were found in and around a ceramic vessel that was
crushed by the weight of the collapsed roof. This bowl, along with a severely damaged oil lamp,
is clearly Abbasid in date. Further analysis and dating of the carbonized material are currently
Next season (2019) of the LAJP will focus on furthering our understanding of Jarash’s water supply
and the extent and nature of the area’s residential usage over the longue durée.
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
As one of the few Roman architectural monuments within
the modern city of Jarash, the “East Baths” first attracted
the attention of travelers in the early 19th century. During
an emergency excavation by the Jordanian Department
of Antiquities, the remains of a pillared hall with numerous
inscriptions and marble statues adjoining the thermal baths
came to light to the north. These finds gave rise to a three-year
Franco-Jordanian-German excavation project in 2016, financed
by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the French Ministry of
Foreign Aairs. The aim was to gain a better understanding of
the statuary program of the large public bath and the adjacent
pillared hall in the regional context of the Province of Arabia.
The excavations of the years 2016 and 2017 concentrated
mainly on the exedra of the north hall and the space that
formed the transition between the bathing facilities and the
hall (Fig. 29). Beneath a thick surface layer at the then current
level of excavations, which apart from very recent material
was relatively poor in finds, a horizon of fallen, richly decorated
architrave blocks emerged. On the basis of various indicators,
the excavators interpreted this finding as a result of the severe
earthquake of 749 A.D. After the recovery of these architectural
blocks, various larger fragments of statues came to light in
scattered depositions. Their collapse cannot be interpreted as
Thomas Lepaon
University of Tours
Thomas M. Weber-Karyotakis
German Jordanian University
Fig. 29. Plan of the East Baths at Jarash
a consequence of the natural disaster, as significant parts of the statues such as heads, limbs or
bases were missing. Rather, it appears that the marble fragments had been deposited here as
a hoard for further processing by burning into lime. The statue fragments were associated with
Byzantine pottery. Below this layer, the paving of an original Roman swimming pool, consisting
of large limestone slabs, was revealed. The connecting architectural elements between the
thermal baths and the northern pillared hall consisted of a large water basin accessible from
the west via a staircase with two inserted columns. The eastern section of the basin can no
longer be studied today, as it lies beneath modern buildings, but if the north–south line running
through the apex of the semicircular exedra of the northern hall is assumed to be the axis of
symmetry, the total size of the rectangular pool was about 27 x 10 m.
The sculptural remains are of importance for Gerasa and the Provincia Arabia not only because
of their artistic quality, but due to their iconographic themes and epigraphic information. The
colossal torso (preserved height 2.08 m without head) of the naked Aphrodite (Fig. 30), carved
from a block of Pentelic marble, is particularly noteworthy. The five-line Greek inscription on the
plinth testifies that the statue was consecrated on A.D. March 20, 153/154 by a priest named
Demetrius, the stepson of Asklepiodorus. More than 40 matching fragments of a figure carved
from Dokimeion marble make up the near-complete figure of the naked standing Zeus (only
the left raised arm and the right hand holding
the bundle of flashes are missing). Thus, for the
first time, a large-scale statue representing the
main god of the ancient city of Gerasa has
been recovered. Other torsos from the pool in
the Eastern Baths show Asklepius, three of the
nine Olympic muses, and a naked male god, as
well as other mythological subjects.
The three-year research program will be
provisionally completed in autumn 2018 with
a combined excavation and restoration
Lepaon, Thomas. 2018. “The Great Eastern Baths
at Gerasa / Jerash - Report on the Excavation
Campaign 2017.”
Annual of the Department of
Antiquities of Jordan
59: 477-501.
Fig. 30. Inscribed statue of Aphrodite found at the
Jarash East Baths
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
As part of the larger “Recycling the Valley” Project, the seventh
season of excavations was undertaken at Tall Damiyah in
September and October 2016. Tall Damiyah, a small settlement
mound on the east bank of the Jordan River, reveals a continuous
occupation history during the Iron Age in contrast to the broken
histories at neighboring sites. During previous excavation work
at Tall Damiyah, the remains of an Iron Age IIC sanctuary were
encountered on the summit and it was proposed that this cultic
place was used primarily by traders and travelers, even during
unfavorable living conditions in the Jordan Valley (Petit and
Kafafi 2016). This would explain the continuous occupation at
Tall Damiyah, whereas other sites in the vicinity, like Tall Mazar
and Tall Dayr ‘Alla, show occupational gaps.
Excavations in 2016 were carried out in three squares on the
summit and aimed at investigating the southwestern corner
of the sanctuary, unravelling its relationship with a domestic
building located to the south, and studying older occupation
phases. The area southwest of the sanctuary was unfortunately
heavily disturbed by later burials and pits, making it hard to add
new information to the already existing plan (Petit and Kafafi
2016: Figure 5). It is, however, clear from results encountered
during previous seasons that this area was part of a street or
courtyard between the sanctuary and the southern domestic
building. Part of it was most likely roofed since several clay loom
weights were encountered on the surface in 2016 (Fig. 32). The
complete dierence of the inventories of the two buildings is
Lucas P. Petit
National Museum of
Antiquities, Leiden
Zeidan Kafafi
Yarmouk University
Fig. 31. A crushed pottery bowl found next to the remains of a mudbrick building. In the left corner are the
remains of a tabun (photo courtesy of Lucas Petit)
intriguing. It is suggested here that the southern building was primarily used as a living area,
whereas the main rectangular building on the summit was intended for cultic purposes. Some
of the finds from this phase, such as an Iron Age I figurine, advocate that Tall Damiyah was also
used as a cultic place before Iron Age IIC.
An important aim of the 2016 field season was to investigate occupational remains below the
phase of the sanctuary, especially in the southern square. The uncovered courtyard layers with
several tabuns point to a domestic function, at least of this part of the site. Most of the finds in
these layers were extremely fragmented due to frequent trampling.
Below these series of courtyard layers, a fragment of a mudbrick structure appeared that
suered a major conflagration. The wall and associated finds, such as a typical Iron Age II bowl,
were dated to the 8th century B.C. (Fig. 31). Excavations of these earlier levels will be resumed in
Petit, L.P. and Z. Kafafi. 2016.”Beyond the River Jordan: a Late Iron Age Sanctuary at Tell Damiyah.”
Near Eastern Archaeology
79/1: 18–26.
Fig. 32. Loom weights on the surface south-
west of the sanctuary (photo courtesy of
Lucas Petit)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Wadi Shu‘aib Archaeological Survey Project (WSAS)
was initiated in 2016 by the Damascus Branch of the Orient
Department of the German Archaeological Institute. Conducted
under Alexander Ahrens, the project focuses on a thorough
survey and reevaluation of all archaeological and historical
sites in the Wadi Shu‘aib, ranging from the Neolithic to Ottoman
Periods, starting from immediately south of the city of as-Salt
in the highlands down to the city of South Shuna (Shuna al-
Janubiyya) located in the southern Jordan Valley.
During the two survey campaigns conducted in fall 2016 and
2017, a total of 27 archaeological sites were recorded within the
wadi system. Some of these sites were already known to the
scholarly community, but were never recorded and documented
thoroughly, while the majority of sites prospected were hitherto
unknown (Fig. 33).
Additionally, and as part of the Wadi Shu‘aib Archaeological
Survey Project, small targeted excavations were conducted
in 2017 at the site of Tall Bleibil (Tall Bulaybil) located close to
the alluvial fan of the Wadi Shu‘aib in the eastern part of the
Jordan Valley. In order to retrieve material for further analysis,
especially radiocarbon dating, botanical samples were taken
from a collapsed northern section of the tell at five dierent
positions and elevations. The results of the radiocarbon analysis
Alexander Ahrens
German Archaeological
Fig. 33. View into the Wadi Shu‘aib (towards south) with site of Khirbet Shu‘aib/WS-006 visible to the right
of the Mosque and Shrine of Nabi Shu‘aib (photo by A. Ahrens)
of three of these samples from the earliest levels accessible, all based on short-lived botanical
remains (barley,
Hordeum vulgare
), show that the site was inhabited during the Iron Age period
(Iron Age IIA/B), with older levels dated to the Early and Late Bronze Ages so far only attested in
the pottery assemblage collected at the site during the survey. Additionally, a large mudbrick
wall was found protruding from the collapsed section. This is presumably the settlement´s city
wall or a wall belonging to a larger building complex within the settlement, which seems to have
been destroyed in a conflagration, dating to the Iron Age IIA period according to radiocarbon
The survey of the Wadi Shu‘aib as well as the archaeological work at Tell Bleibil will continue in
Project website:
Fig. 34. Fragment of
Cypriote White Slip II Ware
(“milk bowl”) from Tell
Bleibil/WS-007 located
close to the alluvial fan of
the Wadi Shu’aib in the
southern Jordan Valley
(courtesy of the DAI, Orient
Department; photo by
A. Ahrens; drawing by B.
Briewig and A. Gubisch)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The fifth Spanish-Italian archaeological campaign to Jabal
al-Mutawwaq was accomplished in May 2016, continuing the
excavations of the Early Bronze Age I village and megalithic
necropolis. Investigations focused on the Great Enclosure, a
large semi-circular structure located in the eastern sector of
the village (Area C), an area located in the northern part of the
village (Area D) severely aected by modern agricultural works,
and Dolmen 535, located on the mountain’s southern cli.
In Area D, two trenches of 2 x 5 m and 3 x 5 m were excavated,
identifying a wall (W.161), oriented northeast–southwest,
preserved up to 50 cm in width and built with a single row of
stones. A hearth was discovered, built directly against the wall.
This is similar to those found in the houses of the Early Bronze
IA village. The pottery related to the structure is comparable to
EB IA pottery discovered in prior campaigns in the village. One
loom weight and a basalt vessel have also been recovered. The
findings, together with the building technique of the wall and
the presence of the hearth, suggest that the structures in the
area are the remains of a dwelling dated to the EB IA.
Dolmen 535 was investigated after opening a trench of 10 x 5 m
(Fig. 35). The dolmen appears to be one of the largest megalithic
structures yet excavated at the site. Unfortunately, it was clear
that the inner chamber of the structure has been already looted.
The burial chamber (2.8 m long, 0.8 m wide and 2.27 m high)
was composed of two lateral slabs, a floor slab and a capstone
in limestone. The lateral slabs have two parallel lines carved at
the mid-point of their height, suggesting an inner division of the
chamber (Fig. 36). The dolmen was surrounded by an apsidal
structure, circular at the back with two lateral straight sides. The
Andrea Polcaro
Perugia University
Juan Muñiz
Facultad de Teología
de San Esteban
Fig. 35. Dolmen 535 from the North. In front of the dolmen is the earth beaten oor (L. 1007) and
the circular installation (I. 1006) are visible.
frontal side of the dolmen has two stone steps leading into the chamber, which is similar to
several dolmens excavated in the 2012 to 2015 campaigns. In front of the entrance, a beaten
earth floor (L. 1007) was discovered, apparently of the same phase as the use of the dolmen. In
relationship with this floor a circular installation has been discovered to the south, denominated
as I. 1006. The installation was filled with layer of sandy earth with a few animal bones collected
on the top of it. The pottery coming from the installation and the associated floor can be dated
to the EB IB–IIA and consists of few sherds, including from a fragmentary small hemispherical
bowl with disk base and a red burnished carinated platter with inturned rim. The excavation
stopped at the front of the dolmen in relation to these features, with the aim of continuing
investigations in the area during future campaigns.
In Area C East, the Great Enclosure has been investigated along its northern limit with a trench
of 15 x 15 m, reaching its northeastern corner against the delimitation wall of the stone structure
(W.101), which in some parts is preserved up to three courses in height. The excavation along
W.101 clarified its method of construction. It was built with large squared stone blocks laying
directly on the bedrock, leveled in some points with layers of rubble and small stones. A few
diagnostic sherds, such as flat bases of large hand-made storage jars (orange paste), were
recovered in the foundation of wall W. 101, allowing us to date the construction of the Great
Enclosure to the EB IA, the main period of use at the Jabal al-Mutawwaq village.
Polcaro, A. and J. Muniz. 2017. “Jebel al Mutawwaq, the Mountain Surrounded by Water. The
Importance of Water Resources During the 4th Millennium BC in the Transjordanian Highlands,
in L. Nigro, M. Nucciotti, E. Gallo (eds.),
Precious Water. Paths of Jordanian civilizations as seen
in the Italian archaeological excavations
. Proceedings of the International Conference held in
Amman, October 18th 2016. ROSAPAT 12, Rome (La Sapienza): 15–27.
Fig. 36. The inner chamber of Dolmen 535 from the South. On the lateral slabs the parallel carved
lines are clearly visible.
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Archaeological investigations and restorations undertaken by
the Rome La Sapienza University Expedition to Jordan at the site
of Khirbet al-Batrawy, a rocky hill dominating the ford through
Wadi az-Zarqa, continued in 2016 and 2017.
The site was discovered in 2004 in the northern periphery of the
city of Zarqa, and was systematically excavated and restored
under the aegis of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.
Thirteen seasons (2005–2017) revealed an Early Bronze II–III
(ca. 3000–2300 B.C.) major fortified center, characterized by
impressive city defenses, domestic quarters, a temple and a
palace, followed by an extensive Early Bronze IVB (ca. 2300–
2000 B.C.) rural village.
The 12th and 13th seasons (2016–2017) of excavations and
restorations at Khirbet al-Batrawy were devoted to the
exploration of the northern fortifications, displaced on four
roughly parallel lines on the slope of the khirbat (Nigro 2012) and
investigated in Areas B North and B South (Fig. 36). Batrawy’s
multiple city-walls represent a unique summary of the city’s
history, from its foundation at the eve of the 3rd millennium B.C.
(EB II), to its first destruction due to a tremendous earthquake
towards 2700 B.C., the following reconstruction (EB IIIA), then
another destruction and final fire which destroyed the city
around 2300 B.C. (EB IIIB). After an occupational hiatus, in the
last two centuries of the 3rd millennium B.C. (EB IVB) a small rural
village occupied the ruins of what was once a flourishing city.
In seasons 2016 and 2017, archaeological activities were focused
on the investigation of the northwestern stretch of the Main
Inner City-Wall (MIW), where the huge Northern Bastion (T.830)
spanned it for more than 20 m. Inside the bastion, a blocked
gateway (L.860) was identified in 2016, originally opened through
the MIW, some 26 m west of Gate L.160 (Fig. 37). The eastern and
Lorenzo Nigro
Sapienza University of Rome
Fig. 37. Blocked gateway L.860 and related features at Khirbet al-Batrawy
western jambs of Gate L.860 were buttressed by squared limestone blocks laid as headers and
stretchers in the MIW. The gateway width (3 m) made it impossible to roof the passageway with
a sole capstone, and this suggests that a wooden ceiling or a mudbrick vault was used. When
the gate went out of use, apparently after the earthquake which hit the city towards the end of
EB II, it was carefully closed by a massive wall (W.867), like Gate L.160, possibly to strengthen the
MIW. A street, running inside the city-wall, was excavated in the 2017 season for a length of 14 m
from the “Palace of the Copper Axes” westwards up to the area of Gate L.860.
The 13th season (2017) has revealed that a limited but substantial occupation in the Late Iron Age
was also present on the westernmost spur of the site. A massive building, very badly preserved
due to pillaging of blocks and erosion, was uncovered. This was possibly a tower or a keep,
cutting through the MIW and Bastion T.830 at the western edge of the excavation area.
In the light of the results of 2016 and 2017, five major occupational periods have been distinguished
on the basis of stratigraphy and associated architecture and finds, especially pottery seriation,
as well as thanks to radiocarbon and physicochemical analyses on pottery and organic materials.
Batrawy periods I–IV correspond to the major occupational phases of the Early Bronze Age
(EBI–EBIV), while, a very limited occupation is represented by Batrawy period V with the keep in
use in the Late Iron Age (586–333 B.C.). The chronological timeline, the monumental architecture
and its extraordinary state of preservation, and the almost unique finds from the “Palace of the
Copper Axes”, make Batrawy an important reference site for the rise of urbanism in the Early
Bronze Age of the southern Levant.
Nigro, L., 2012.
Khirbet al-Batrawy III. The EB II–III triple fortification line and the EB IIIB quarter
inside the city. Preliminary report of the fourth (2008) and fifth (2009) seasons of excavations.
(ROSAPAT 8). Rome (La Sapienza).
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Restoration and Rehabilitation Project of the Roman
Nymphaeum in Amman provides an example of innovative
management practice and applied methods in the revival of urban
heritage and serves as an approach towards sustainable heritage
preservation (also see Al Adarbeh et al. 2017 and El Khalili 2016).
The Roman period Nymphaeum in Amman, considered to be the
largest monument of its kind in ancient Provincia Arabia, had suered
from dierent deterioration factors that has aected its state of
conservation. This led to the monument being considered locally
as an example of visual pollution in downtown Amman. Through a
joint project with the Hamdi Mango Center for Scientific Research
at the University of Jordan, the Department of Antiquities, and
the Greater Amman Municipality, it was possible to preserve large
areas of the site which needed urgent restoration and conservation.
The project (August 2014–March 2018) has been supported by the
Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation at the US Embassy in
Amman, Jordan.
35 workers, technicians, and experts from the fields of conservation,
cultural resource management, archaeology, tourism, and
architecture were involved in the project and fifty on-job field
training opportunities were oered for university students from
fields of conservation, cultural resource management, chemistry,
biology, tourism management, architecture, and urban planning.
Students were mainly from University of Jordan, Hashemite
University, University of Petra, and Jordan University of Science and
Nizar Al Adarbeh
Mohammed El Khalili
Hashemite University
and University of Petra
Abeer Al Bawab
University of Jordan
Fig. 38: The eastern part of
the Nymphaeum before
(above) and after (below)
nishing the buttress
construction works (photo by
Muath Khawaj)
Advanced documentation for the site and surrounding area was undertaken using a 3D Laser
Scanner, contributing to drawings of plans, elevations and sections used to document the
monument’s state of conservation. Scattered architectural fragments at the site were numbered,
photographed and drawn, and reorganized and presented in the site.
A comprehensive cleaning of the whole monument was undertaken with dierent mechanical
techniques using low pressure water pumps to remove deposits accumulated on the façade
due to air pollution. Tools including small brushes were used to remove crusts and external
crystalized salts, as well as any plants and fungi on the stone surface. Chemical cleaning using
wet bandages was used on some parts of the monument.
Consolidation included filling the joints of stone blocks with compatible mortar. In addition,
chemical consolidation and suitable polymers were used for very fragile stones. For the first
time in Jordan, nanotechnology was employed in the form of nano-calcium hydroxide injected
in limited amounts into the stone. This penetrates and transforms the stone into calcium
carbonate, consolidating delicate internal sections of the building. Some reconstruction of
missing structural elements to safeguard the existing structure was carried out which enhanced
its overall interpretation and presentation.
The project successfully safeguarded the internal environment of the site including removal of
non-site related structures and visual pollution, cleaning the front area of debris, landscaping
and installing terraces compatible with the site which proved to be eective during winter
season. The open areas and part of the basin of the Nymphaeum were covered with gravel to
provide a unified look, enhance visitor circulation, and limit the possibility of vegetation growth.
Preparations were made for nine fully illustrated bilingual site interpretive panels, a 3D printed
reconstruction model of the Nymphaeum, and online and promotion materials. In summary,
this project is a new model for downtown Amman in the way it revives and transforms urban
heritage into an open public space and provides opportunities as a cultural forum.
Nymphaeum team members and partners also included Monther Jamhawi and Asma Shahaltogh
(Department of Antiquities), Ramadan Abdullah (University of Jordan), Yahya Al Shawabkeh
(Hashemite University), and Carlo Bianchini (University of Rome “La Sapienza”).
Al Adarbeh, N., M. El Khalili, and A. Al Bawab, 2017. “Community and Stakeholders Engagement
in Revival of Urban Heritage: Restoration and Rehabilitation Project of the Roman Nymphaeum
in Amman.” Paper delivered at the 19th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium,
Delhi, India, December 2017.
El Khalili, M. 2016. “Damage Assessment of the Roman Nymphaeum in Amman, Jordan: An
Analytical and Diagnostic Study.”
International Journal of Conservation Science
7.2: 477–492.
Fig. 39. 3D rendered
model of the
Nymphaeum, showing
the main façade
(rendering by Adel
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The 2016 season of excavation at the Madaba Plains Project site
of Tall al-`Umayri was focused on four field locations (Fields H,
J, L, and P) (Fig. 40) and one hinterland survey location (Site 84).
Due to ongoing land-ownership issues at the site, we have been
unable to excavate beyond the 2016 season, although analysis
of finds and preparations for publication continue apace.
Excavation at the southwestern corner of the `Umayri acropolis
in Field H succeeded in identifying the southern perimeter wall
in that location, already suspected of lying beneath Stratum 6
Wall 2 and dating through several periods of reuse at least as
far back as Stratum 12 (Fig. 41). In the process, this work exposed
an important destruction layer from the end of Stratum 12 that
sealed against the wall, helping excavators connect the well-
known Stratum 12 western defense system with that along the
southern slopes. The discovery of Stratum 12 remains here adds
to our knowledge of the extent and nature of the occupation
and destruction in a new area of the tell. Recovered artifacts
and pottery, related to food storage and preparation, as well as
textile production, attest to the domestic nature of the structure
which was exposed by means of a small probe.
Elsewhere on the southern acropolis, in Field L, specific objectives
for 2016 included attempts to locate and date more of the
presumed perimeter wall in the southern portion of the field
adjacent to Field J and to understand the Iron I stratigraphy
nearby through the continuation of a probe begun during the
2012 season. The main goals of the 2016 season were largely
Douglas R. Clark
La Sierra University
Kent V. Bramlett
La Sierra University
Fig. 40. Aerial image of Tell with Fields (by Matt Vincent)
met. Fragmentary remains of two large walls (15 and 16) were identified, with Wall 16 possibly
being a perimeter wall dating to the Iron Age I. To the north of the wall several superimposed
surfaces were uncovered, the earliest, likely from Stratum 12, representing a domestic area which
contained one crushed jar on its side; at least four nearly whole pithoi in situ in the same area
come from Stratum 10. Nearby to the east and from the Late Iron II Period, there appeared
surfaces as well as a large circular stone-lined bin. Stratum 12 was also represented in several
earth layers and some architecture in the eastern portion of Field L.
Excavation in a series of squares down the southern slope in Field J, begun in 2014, further
established that the southern side of the tell was fortified in the Early Iron I Period (Stratum 12)
with a packed-earth rampart, similar to that on the western side of the tell. Probes through the
rampart down to bedrock in several locations revealed that it was not preceded by a Middle
Bronze Age rampart as had been the case on the western side. An ash layer on the top of the
Stratum 12 rampart may be the result of the massive fire that destroyed the site ca. 1200 B.C. A
Stratum 6 rampart overlay the detritus of the Early Iron Age version.
Work on the southeastern shelf near the dolmen continued to ground-truth GPR data from
2013. Here, in Field P, excavation in the vicinity of two bedrock anomalies indicated by the GPR
data did not reveal tombs but rather natural fissures and gaps in the limestone bedrock shelves.
While some apparently domestic features were uncovered in Field P, most areas excavated to
bedrock did not yield remains.
At Site 84, several of the best examples from 30 agricultural installations were cleaned and
photogrammetry was conducted. These features represent utilization and increased exploitation
of the agricultural landscape in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.
Project Website:
Fig. 41. Perimeter Wall in H 7K02 with Stratum 12
construction phase at the very bottom
(photo courtesy of Douglas R. Clark)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The 2016 excavation season at Tall Hisban took place over three
weeks in May and June and focused on the western, northern
and southern slopes of the tell. In addition to continued eorts
at improving visitor access to the site and conservation of
the standing ruins, the 2016 season was designed to address
questions related to the history and development of the
medieval Islamic settlement.
The well-preserved architectural remains of the farmhouses
supporting the Mamluk-era castle, with their barrel vaults
and beautifully plastered walls and floors, remain the most
outstanding feature of the discoveries made in 2016. They are
preserved in four fields, three of which were studied in detail this
season, aided by photogrammetry and 3-D modelling.
Excavations on the southwest slope of the tell (Field O) have
revealed a complex of four vaulted, single-roomed farmhouses,
abutting one another and opening onto a shared, walled
courtyard. One house was particularly well preserved, and a
small storage space, partitioned in a corner and paved with
octagonal flagstones of purple-hued flint, produced a quantity
of imported glass and ceramics (Fig. 42). Extensive limestone
detritus and flint debitage and worked flakes, the debris from
stone working for house construction and apparent flint-
knapping, were recovered from the courtyard. The structure’s
foundation trench was reached, confirming an Abbasid
construction date. The house was reoccupied and rebuilt in the
Mamluk period.
Above the reservoir (Field B), excavation continued of a single
Bethany J. Walker
University of Bonn,
Øystein S. LaBianca
Andrews University
Fig. 42. Fragment of an enameled glass beaker or bowl, with heraldic blazon and Arabic inscription
(photo courtesy Felicitas Weber)
Mamluk-era structure, which incorporated components of a Late Byzantine house. Excavations
in 2013 and 2014 revealed a stone-outlined pit with three complete jars—two handle-less jars of
Syrian underglazed ware of the 14th century and a small, handle-less handmade jar. Residue
analysis of the contents of these jars in 2017 documented their use as storage for olive oil and
goat cheese, suggesting that one room of this structure in the Mamluk period was a pantry
(Walker et al. 2017).
A series of parallel vaulted buildings, built downslope, cover the north slope of the tell near
the garrison wall (Field M). Excavation of one of these structures was completed, and its
changing functions and history of construction and use were clarified, aided by integrated
zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical, and phytolith analyses. Built in the Mamluk period, on
ancient walls, this building, in its latest phase, was used as a kitchen, with tabuns built against
one wall. A large vaulted, subterranean structure was also discovered below this chamber,
connected to a vast cistern.
Excavation of a large, isolated farmhouse in Field P, southwest of the tell, continued this season
(Fig. 43). The foundation trench was reached, providing evidence of construction in the Late
Byzantine or Early Islamic period, with heavy restructuring in the Mamluk period, and sporadic
reoccupation throughout the Ottoman era. The structure includes a walled courtyard, with
multiple installations and animal pens subdividing the space in the 19th century.
The Hisban Cultural Association held two cultural events in the garden at the site’s entrance
during the excavation season, in celebration of Jordan’s Independence Day and the Thawra.
Members of the Association, Municipality, and local families attended.
Walker, Bethany J., Robert Bates, Silvia Polla, Andreas Springer, and Sabrina Weihe. 2017. “Residue
Analysis as Evidence of Activity Areas and Phased Abandonment in a Medieval Jordanian
Journal of Islamic Archaeology
4(3): 217–248.
Fig. 43. Farmhouse and courtyard in Field P (photo courtesy Nicoló Pini)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The summers of 2016 and 2017 marked the second and third
excavation seasons of the Town of Nebo Archaeological Project
(TNAP). The town of Nebo (or Khirbat al-Mukhayyat as it is
known today) is located at the western edge of the Madaba
Plateau, overlooking the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. Prior
archaeological research at Mukhayyat has focused on the
Byzantine remains at the site. TNAP was conceived to address
this lacuna and explore broader themes, such as pilgrimage,
economy, and landscape, across multiple cultural and historical
periods. The summer of 2014 marked our inaugural season of
excavation at which time three fields were opened. Since that
time, excavations have concentrated on Field B, on an artificial
rise to the south of the acropolis, and Field C, located north of
the acropolis.
Field B produced a number of interesting finds during the 2014
season and thus was also the focus of excavations in 2016
and 2017. The presence of monumental architecture prompted
initial investigations in this area. This structure has now been
identified as an Iron Age tower (Fig. 44), which would have been
incorporated into the defensive system identified in other areas
of the site. Additional evidence of Iron Age occupation has been
uncovered in Field B, namely a series of surfaces and a small
northeast–southwest wall.
There appear to be two distinct Hellenistic occupation phases in
Field B. The earlier phase is defensive in nature and is associated
Debra Foran
Wilfrid Laurier University
Fig. 44. Remains of an Iron Age tower at Khirbet al-Mukhayyat
Fig. 45. Plaster
installations surrounding
the late Hellenistic
with the replacement of the masonry in the southeastern corner of the tower with large, well-
cut ashlar blocks. The later phase appears to be associated with ritual activities. Since the 2014
season, over 40 intact cooking pots have been recovered from dierent fill layers in Field B.
This ritual activity consisted of placing cooking vessels upright on the ground, regardless of the
steepness of the slope. The soil that surrounds them contains a large amount of Iron Age pottery,
suggesting that these cooking pots were intentionally buried using fill from earlier cultural levels
in the surrounding area. These cooking pots may be associated with some type of ritual feasting
activity that took place seasonally at the site.
Field C was the focus of excavations in 2014 and 2016. Initially, work began in the central part
of Field C; however, it became obvious partway through the 2014 season that there were no
structures or clear occupational levels here. Excavation activity then shifted to the western edge
of Field C in hopes of exposing part of the sites fortification system. In addition to revealing
more of the defensive wall, work in this area in 2014 succeeded in uncovering a plaster-lined,
stepped ritual bath (or miqveh) dated to the Late Hellenistic period. Excavations in 2016 in the
area surrounding the miqveh produced a number of plaster installations (Fig. 45) that may be
associated with agricultural activities in this area. More of the Iron Age fortification wall was also
found in this area.
TNAP’s 2016 and 2017 seasons were an overwhelming success. We will return for a fourth season
in the summer of 2019, when we will hopefully be able to answer some of the lingering questions
that our excavations have produced.
Project website:
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The 2016 and 2017 seasons of excavation at Tall Jalul were
conducted in May and June 2016 and June and July 2017 by
faculty and students from Andrews University. The excavations
were directed by Paul Gregor, along with co-directors Constance
Gane and Paul Ray.
Field B, on the eastern edge of the tell, was originally opened in
1992. Two superimposed flagstone pavements were found, with
the lower of the two pavements initially dated to the early 9th
century B.C., and the upper pavement to the 9th/8th century
The purpose of these two seasons in Field B was to clarify
the stratigraphy between the upper and lower pavements in
order to provide a firmer date for their construction. Two large
probes were opened in Squares B2 and B6, in 2016, with a third
(in B4) in 2017, each supervised by Robert Bates. In two probes
(B2 and B4), sections of the upper pavement were removed,
and the soil excavated until the lower pavement was found.
In the probe in Square B6, the lower pavement was removed,
as its upper counterpart had been robbed in antiquity. In each
probe, excavation revealed sections of a previously discovered
revetment wall.
Due to the optical illusion of working on the side of the slope,
and some occasional flat-lying stones, it was thought at the
end of the 2016 season that there were at least three phases of
Paul Gregor
Robert Bates
Paul Ray
Constance Gane
Randall Younker
Andrews University
Fig. 46. Square B4 Probe, showing the Upper (Locus 5), and Lower (Locus 10) Pavements, and revetment
wall (Locus 13)
pavement on the northern end of Field
B. Further south, the probe in Square
B6 underneath the lower pavement
yielded considerable ceramic finds, but
no evidence for additional pavements.
Between seasons it was discovered
that the lower pavement, examined in
the probes in Squares B2 and 6 were the
same, being on a 6.5 degree (11% grade)
slope, and that the lower pavement in
Square B2 was located 0.40 m below
the revetment wall, instead of sealing
against it, as in Square B6. With the
third pavement idea ruled out, a new
probe, in Square B4, was opened in 2017
to help provide answers to this problem.
In the process of excavation, it was
discovered that one of the stones of
the upper course of the revetment wall
was not fully supported by the course
below, and was oset laterally, outward
by 0.10–0.15 m, only supported by soil
and chink stones. When the supporting
soil was excavated, it was found that
revetment wall changes direction by ca.
10 degrees east, resulting in its passing
over the lower pavement in Square B2.
As in Square B6, it was found that the section of the lower pavement in Square B4 seals against
the revetment wall, suggesting their contemporaneous construction. It also suggests a later
phase of construction, with the revetment wall being diverted from its original path, over, rather
than parallel, to the lower pavement in Square B2. The ceramic evidence suggests that the
lower flagstone pavement was built in Early Iron II, a date consistent with the material found
Field W was opened in the 2010 season in order to explore the nature and function of a channel
and reservoir discovered earlier. Seventeen squares have been opened and excavated between
2010 and 2017, with parts of the eastern, southern, and western walls and the floor of the reservoir
exposed. On the basis of the ceramic evidence from where the eastern wall of the reservoir cuts
the floors of an earlier building, it would appear that the structure was constructed during the
10th century B.C., with the earliest material on the reservoir floor indicating that it went out of
use during the last part of 7th century B.C.
Fig. 47. Square B6 Probe, Jacob Moody, standing on
Lower Pavement, operating camera on top of wonder
pole with iPad app
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Madaba Regional Archaeological Museum Project (MRAMP)
is an American-Italian-Jordanian collaboration formed in 2015
and committed to establishing a new regional archaeological
museum in the city of Madaba. The ultimate objective of MRAMP
is to prepare the area of the Madaba Archaeological Park West,
in downtown Madaba, as the location for a new museum in
order to preserve and display archaeological materials from
the numerous excavations in the Madaba region. Sponsoring
entities of the project include the author-aliated institutions,
in cooperation with a large number of local and international
stakeholders, including USAID SCHEP, implemented by ACOR.
Specific objectives include a number of archaeological and
conservational interventions; repurposing of the current Madaba
Archaeological Museum; identification of an extensive network
of stakeholder groups; educational collaborations; and, most
importantly, an intentional, pervasive commitment to community
archaeology which recognizes cultural remains as a public asset
to be protected and preserved for future generations.
Up to this point in time the project has mounted two successful
seasons of excavation and clearing of debris accumulated in
the Ottoman-period settlement since excavations ended more
than 20 years ago. An initial pilot season took place in May 2016
and a second, follow-up season in May 2017, with at least one
more planned for May 2018.
In 2016, work focused on re-exposing three major architectural
Douglas R. Clark
La Sierra University
Marta D’Andrea
Sapienza University
Andrea Polcaro
Perugia University
Suzanne Richard
Gannon University
Basem Mahamid
Department of Antiquities
of Jordan
Fig. 48. Ottoman-period settlement in 2017
structures aligned north–south
and adjacent to the west wing
of the Burnt Palace: Buildings 1
and 2 and Courtyard 3 (Fig. 48).
The MRAMP team was confronted
at the beginning with a dense
jungle of grass and brush growing
vigorously from the accumulated
inter-seasonal debris since the
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/
ACOR excavations of the 1990s.
Before and after photos reveal
starkly the problems of neglect
and the promise of cleaning and
clearing; the change over two
weeks was dramatic. The western
portion of the settlement was left
untouched by MRAMP until the
next year.
The focus of the 2017 season was to continue cleaning operations and to document further
the area of the Ottoman-period settlement (Fig. 49). In continuity with the work undertaken
the previous season, the aim of these operations was to enhance the presentation of the area
and further understand the superimpositions of the dierent exposed architectural phases. The
team also expanded clearance activities to Building 4 and Courtyard 5.
As part of the design of MRAMP/SCHEP, training and capacity-building have been central
components since the beginning. Examples include:
Four workshops, two stretching into 2018. Mosaic conservation and stone wall consolidation
constituted the 2017 components, both supported by the Center for Ancient Mediterranean
and Near Eastern Studies (CAMNES) in Italy.
The Italian National Council of Research (ITABC-CNR) supported laser scanning of the
entire area in preparation for the work of architects, as well as geo-resistivity sub-surface
mapping for anomalies.
The Italian architectural firm Studio Strati of Rome prepared architectural plans of the
park and created a 3D model of the future building.
Numerous local workers and technicians were employed, many of them improving job-
related skills in the field of cultural heritage preservation, with the support of USAID SCHEP.
Local school children have visited the site to learn about the value of their heritage.
Undergraduate and graduate architecture students from three universities—American
University of Madaba, University of Jordan, and Hashemite University—have worked on
academic projects related to the proposed Madaba Museum.
An ocial launch in May 2017 attracted members from several communities: ambassadors,
ocials from the Madaba governorate and municipality, the Ministry of Tourism and
Antiquities and the Department of Antiquities, descendants of late 19th century families
who established modern Madaba, local business people, and other members of the
Project website:
Fig. 49. Topographic map of Ottoman-period settlement with
structures identied
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The central knoll of Murayghat (Area 1) was intensively surveyed
in 2016 and 2017. During that process 105 squares (10,500 m2 or
just over 1 ha) have now been surveyed, documenting the visible
bedrock in 1:100 plans; while cup-marks and any other surface
structures were documented in more detail. Over 40 cup-holes
have been documented. There is a concentration of them along
the edge of Wadi Murayghat, where in some cases groups of
four and six have been found. They are usually around 15 to 20
cm in diameter and of widely diering depths.
The systematic survey of areas around Area 1 concentrated on
Area 4 (Fig. 51), but included features in other parts of the site.
Seven rock terraces form the slope up to the hilltop of Area 4.
The fields of archaeological investigation are arranged along
these geographical formations. The dolmens are situated along
the terraces. The dolmens found in Area 4 consist of one floor
slab, one or two side stones/orthostats at the long sides, one
end stone at each short side (often missing) and a capstone.
Most slabs (side, floor, and roof) are better smoothed on the
inside of the dolmen, while the outside is weathered. The floor-
slab as well as the blocking slabs at the entrances are much
smaller than the orthostats and the capstones. Six small ancient
quarries have been documented in Area 4, which are usually
in the direct vicinity of a dolmen and indicate by their shape
Susanne Kerner
University of Copenhagen
Fig. 50. Trench 3 (right) and Trench 4 (left) with features (picture is slightly distorted and pointing south)
that the dolmen slabs might come directly from them. On top of Area 8, structures have been
recorded, including a tower. The tower most likely dates to the Late Antique period.
In Area 7 to the east, three collapsed dolmens and surrounding structures have been recorded.
The dolmen L.7008 is one of the largest found so far at the site, with the side stones being 3.2 x
0.45 x 0.95 m (length, width, height) and 3.3 x 0.3 x 1.25 m. The inside chamber is 2.2 x 1.45 x 0.95
m and filled with soil and rubble. Close to the dolmen runs a wall of 8.5 m length, 0.85 m width
and 1.7 m height, forming a large terrace for it. Two tracks run from Area 7 on the plateau down
to Wadi Ma’in. These might have been ancient pathways running more or less parallel to the
modern Ma‘in road that replaced them. One of them leads close to the Early Bronze Age site
WZM 01 in the Ma’in valley.
Trenches 3/3.2/3.3 had an excavated area of 65 m2 and Trenches 4/4.2/4.3 had an excavated
area of 64 m2 (Fig. 50). The long, badly made Wall 7 was excavated in both trenches. Wall
7 is joined by curved Wall 11 in Trench 3 and runs over a large pit in both trenches. In Trench
3 other late, unsubstantial walls of the Middle Bronze Age, without connected surfaces were
excavated, documented, and removed. The stone-lined pit, already excavated in 2014, is
roughly contemporary with these MBA walls. The MBA walls were all above a surface (L.1701),
which sealed the larger, more substantial Wall 14, which might date into the Eearly Bronze Age.
This wall ends at a line of large, toppled orthostats (L.1723), which have not been completely
excavated. In Trench 4, some late, very badly made walls joined Wall 7. Several double-faced,
large walls (1, 15, 19) were further excavated, which seem to frame a large platform made from
irregular boulders. All of these walls in Trench 4 were covered by at least one flooding event,
which left particularly in the east of the trench a deep alluvium layer. Below Wall 1 a huge
limestone block (with cup-mark and posthole) and a curved line of stones were excavated,
which undoubtedly date to the Early Bronze Age.
Fig. 51. Map showing investigated areas and locations of modern quarries at Murayghat
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Hungarian Academy of Arts in collaboration with the Studium
Biblicum Franciscanum has been conducting archaeological
excavations and architectural surveys at the Herodian fortified
city of Machaerus since 2009. During our eighth and ninth
archaeological seasons, in September–October 2016 and in
September–October 2017, among other important discoveries,
we excavated and surveyed a previously unknown part of the
royal citadel of Machaerus.
The original intention of the fieldwork was the uncovering of the
uppermost streets of the Herodian lower city in Machaerus, and
collecting additional architectural elements for our ongoing
anastylosis project. We discovered outside the surrounding
wall of the Early Roman fortress the previously unknown and
lost part of the Herodian royal palace. We have revealed its
northern wing together with the complete fourth tower of its
fortification. In addition to this huge tower, we have excavated
the two Herodian halls with a general quadrilateral layout
next to the royal courtyard, that were erected between the
huge Hasmonean fortification wall (on the northeastern side),
and the Herodian wall of the Doric peristyle courtyard (on
their southwestern side), in a ca. eight degree angle (Fig. 52).
In addition to these, we have also revealed a third, previously
unknown Herodian hall, with a concave-pentagon-layout,
where we have discovered and fully excavated the remains of a
Herodian ritual bath (miqveh).
Győző Vörös
Hungarian Academy of
Arts; Studium Biblicum
Franciscanum in
Fig. 52. Plan of Machaerus
Inside the Hasmonean origin tower we
completed the excavation of another
previously unknown Herodian miqveh,
the fifth found since 1968, but in a king-
size degree in comparison to the previous
ones. Such a monumental measure was
only known previously on the West Bank of
ancient Judea (Vörös 2017). This mikveh is
the largest ever revealed in Transjordan (Fig.
53). One of the great discoveries of the 2017
excavation season was the unearthing of
the previously unknown citadel-gate of the
Early Roman garrison towards the lower city.
Even though the service-gate has survived
in a poorly preserved manner, the meeting
point of the Hasmonean and (later reused)
Herodian wall with the polygonal Early
Roman surrounding wall, clearly indicates its
original place. Similarly to the Herodian gate
in the southeastern side of the southwestern
bastion, the Early Roman citadel-gate used
for its foundation the ruined Hasmonean wall.
The area of the 2016–2017 archaeological
excavation seasons, that complemented
each other and explored the last, unknown
part of the Herodian citadel, was ca. 1,000
m2. The area consisted of two-meter-high
accumulated debris on average, but in some places the ancient detritus reached eight meters
in height. The final report will be published in Milan (Edizioni Terra Santa) in 2019, as the 56th
volume of the Jerusalem Collectio Maior series of the Pontifical Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
and entitled:
Machaerus III: The Golden Jubilee of the Archaeological Excavations – Final Report
on the Herodian Citadel – 1968–2018
Vörös, G. 2017. “Machaerus: A Palace-Fortress with Multiple Mikva’oth.”
Biblical Archaeology
43(4): 30–39, 60.
Project website:
Fig. 53. The monumental royal Herodian mikveh of
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
In view of the substantial rural Early Bronze IV occupation at
Iskandar, the project has concentrated on investigating this
enigmatic period, demonstrating that there was a high level
of complexity and continuities of urban-like traditions with
the preceding period. Excavations over several seasons have
revealed a substantial EB III settlement with multiple phases and
rebuilds of the fortifications. This report presents the results of our
2016 season in a summary of exposure-by-season objectives.
The latest (phase C1) EB III settlement on the mound was
discovered under a massive destruction phase. Horizontal
exposure of the latter revealed a central room, possibly a storage
area, along with courtyard and ancillary buildings. To expose
more of the earlier EB III (phase C2) phase, we reopened Square
B1 at the NW corner of the mound in Area B where excavation
had exposed a series of hearths in the western half of the square.
In 2016, the eastern half of Square B1 revealed an activity area
with an unusual mudbrick platform and a horseshoe-shaped
tabun (Fig. 54). The mudbrick debris and ash across the area in
association with the tabun and hearths appear to represent an
extensive work area, possibly a kitchen.
To further investigate the fortifications on the western perimeter,
we reopened Square B4A in Area B. In 2013, a new perimeter
Jesse C. Long, Jr.
Lubbock Christian University
Suzanne Richard
Gannon University
Marta D’Andrea
Sapienza University of Rome
Fig. 54. View of the EB III
mudbrick horseshoe-shaped
tabun at Khirbat Iskandar
(photo by G. Kochheiser)
wall (B4A006) was discovered abutting the NW corner of the tower, running parallel to and
outside a later EB III/IV western perimeter wall (B2A053). In 2016, we determined that the remains
of the new wall stand to a height of 1.75m, which with its 2m width represents a substantial
fortification in the EB III Phase C. To further investigate the relationship between these two walls,
we expanded Square B5A/5B downslope, where a segment of a major wall line was apparent.
In the small area, results were ambiguous. To uncover further evidence for connections between
EB IV Phases A–B and the fortifications (the later W.B2A053), we expanded with half a Square
(B21A) to the west. While the season ended before we could clarify the relationship between the
Phase B domestic area and the wall, it appeared that the upper Phase A domestic structures
were built against the defensive line.
We returned to the Area C “gateway” on the southeast corner of the mound to test the three-
phase EB IV stratigraphy that we articulated in Richard et al., 2010. To address this objective, we
reopened Squares C6 and C8 on the eastern edge of Area C. In Square C6, we further exposed
Phase 2 Wall 6039 as well as Phase 1 Wall 6034. A series of surfaces associated with these walls
emerged, the pottery of which will be critical in determining whether or not Phase 1 is transitional
EB III/IV. In Square C8 (extended to a full square), we uncovered Phase 3 walls and surfaces. Our
excavation also confirmed the continuation of Phase 1–2 architectural features between C6
and C8, along with associated surfaces (Fig. 55). We are confident that the reexamination of the
stratigraphic sequence will allow us to reevaluate the EB III/IV nexus at the site.
While the findings are preliminary, the 2016 season of excavation at Khirbat Iskandar exposed
more of the EB IV and earlier EB III levels and helped further clarify the phasing in the fortifications
during the Early Bronze Age.
Richard, S., Long, J.C. Jr., Holdorf, P.S., and Peterman, G. 2010.
Khirbat Iskandar: Final Report on
the Early Bronze IV Area C ‘Gateway’ and Cemeteries
. American Schools of Oriental Research:
Archaeological Reports 18. Boston: ASOR.
Fig. 55. View of the Area C Squares 6–8 with continuation of Phase 2 architecture, looking west
(photo by G. Kochheiser)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The 2017 excavation season of the Balu’a Regional Archaeological
Project focused on three field locations (Fig. 52). Excavation in
Square 24.42 examined the context of the Qasr and attempted
to provide new insights into the dating of its construction and use.
Work in Square 25.62 reopened and expanded the excavation
of an Iron Age house. A new excavation area, Square 41.31,
investigated the fortification line dividing the upper city from its
later, eastern expansion.
The goal of this season’s excavation was to narrow the date of the
large standing structure called the Qasr al-Balu’a. A 3 x 3 m probe
was opened against the Qasr’s north wall. A cobble and packed-
earth surface was reached at about level with the surrounding
area. A few Roman glass fragments and early Nabataean pottery
sherds indicated an early 1st century A.D. Nabataean reuse of
the structure and surrounding area. Excavation below this level
revealed two east–west walls and several layers of earth debris
covering and running up to the Qasr wall. Diagnostic pottery
indicated Iron IIB as a probable period for the deposition of these
Time limitations did not allow us to excavate to the bottom of
the Qasr wall. The lowest layer excavated appeared to consist
Kent Bramlett
La Sierra University
Monique Vincent
La Sierra University and
Walla Walla University
Friedbert Ninow
La Sierra University and
Theologische Hochschule
Fig. 56. Aerial image with map overlay of site with Fields (image by Ian Jones)
of destruction debris interspersed with charred wood and numerous animal bone fragments.
This layer contained a quantity of pottery which was dated earlier than any of the other layers
encountered in the 2017 season. Tentatively, it appears this debris layer, if not of secondary
deposition, could provide a terminus ante quem for the construction of the Qasr, which would
place its construction date no later than the Early Iron Age.
The excavators returned to Square 25.62 with the intent to expand the exposure of an Iron
II domestic structure encountered in 2012. A major objective was to establish a date for the
destruction of the building and to understand the phases of use represented by several surface
layers encountered in the 2012 sondage. Two rooms were partially exposed with additional
rooms indicated by an unexcavated doorway to the southwest and a passage to the east. The
latest use-surface was cleared in all areas excavated of the 3 x 3 m area. A rectangular bin was
located in the eastern room and two circular bins were in the western room. The latter room also
had several pithoi crushed by the collapse of the dividing wall between these two rooms. The
surfaces of these two rooms were constructed over a prepared plaster surface associated with
the lowest level of the walls constituting this house.
An area of excavation was chosen to overlap with what appeared from the surface and GIS
mapping to constitute a defensive wall that separated the upper city from the lower, eastern
expansion. This seven-meter-wide wall probably served as the exterior wall prior to the Late Iron
Age expansion. Excavation revealed three phases of fortification, all dating to the Iron Age II. The
latest phase entailed the construction of towers along the destroyed or abandoned line of the
earlier fortification wall. Excavation between two towers showed the seven-meter-wide wall to
actually be two large walls in parallel with a space between them. The layout strongly suggests
a casemate construction for Phase 2. The excavated portion of the casemate room produced
45 clay loom weights and a number of groundstone fragments. A third phase was indicated
in a probe on the eastern external side of the east casemate wall. This probe extended more
than 3 m down to the wall’s founding level on bedrock and showed evidence of three phases of
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
A main focus of the 2016 and 2017 seasons at Ghawr as-Sāfī
was revealing more of the functioning of the sugar factory,
the Masna‘ as-Sukkar (formerly called Tawāhīn as-Sukkar) on
the northern and eastern sides. Excavations were made in a
new trench (XXII) measuring 11 x 27 m encompassing a large
northeastern part of the sugar factory (refining areas) as well
as walls from the early 20th century Ottoman fort. The few finds
recovered in these upper layers were primarily datable inscribed
cartridge shells from the 1918 skirmishes between the Ottoman
army and the Arab Revolt forces.
An arched bridge from the pressing chambers carried sugar
juices in covered plastered channels with lead piping leading to
Trench XXII where boiling and curing took place. Here, a series
of collapsed arches were found with four sets of arch springers
forming part of an arcade which were matched by another
set of north–south running arches (Fig. 57). Much of this area
had remnants of plastered flooring and in places what look like
plastered benches, perhaps for placing sugar pots or vessels
related to the sugar refining process. Many sugar and molasses
pots were recovered during excavations of the area. Several
fragments of copper vessels, probably from disused cauldrons
were also found. Otherwise, few other finds were discovered.
In a corner of a room was a disarticulated female burial with
beads and a multi-colored glass bangle dating to the 15th
Konstantinos D. Politis
Hellenic Society for Near
Eastern Studies
Fig. 57. Overhead composite image of Tawahin as-Sukkar (composite image by Q. Dasuqi)
century A.D. This was similar to burials found in other parts of the sugar factory and gives it a
terminus post quem. Further east, two fired brick-lined circular concave structures with their
tops measuring 1.4 m and 1.1 m diameter respectively, and approximately 1.5 m deep were found,
and these were evidently where the copper cauldrons (
) were placed to boil the pressed
sugar juice. Immediately east of these were the stoke rooms, and east of these were dense
dumps of ash marking the outer limit of the sugar processing area.
The main objective of Trenches X and XI at neighboring Khirbat ash-Shaykh ’Īsā was to try and
locate the pottery kiln, for which there is ample evidence in the forms of pottery wasters and
many kiln wall fragments.
Trench IX was excavated from Ayyubid-Mamluk and Abbasid levels down to the remnants of the
mosaic floor of the church of Byzantine Zoara. Unfortunately, the pavement was not in very good
condition as much had been disturbed during the Abbasid-period occupation. A door opening
was revealed and some geometric patterns on mosaic, though the dedicatory inscription
was damaged. Stabilization and conservation were carried out following excavations which
unexpectedly revealed a cruciform baptistery in Trench VIII (Fig. 58).
Following previous surveys at Umm Tawabin, archaeological excavations were conducted for
the first time in 2017. This large fortified hilltop site is strategically positioned above Ghawr as-
Sāfī. At least four interior buildings (Forts A–D) and over one hundred stone circles and other
associated features all enclosed by a ca. 2.5 km long wall were identified. Five trenches were
made which confirmed a ca. 1st century B.C. to 1st century A.D. date for the hilltop citadel,
though the stones circles and casemate walls below were more elusive.
Fig. 58. Plan of Byzantine-period Khirbat ash-Shaykh Issa
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Funded by a Wenner-Gren Anthropological Foundation
Historical Archive Grant, and in cooperation with the Carnegie
Museum for Natural History, we began curating the archives of
the late R. Thomas Schaub, a long-time ACOR supporter. This
crucial research facilitates our analyses and final publication of
the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plains (EDSP) legacy excavations
at the Early Bronze Age (EBA) cemeteries of Bab adh-Dhra`,
Fifa, and Khirbat Khanazir. The archives contain excavation
documentation (Fig. 59), Tom’s personal and professional
correspondence (Fig. 60), and historically significant photographs
of fieldwork, laboratory, and Jordan’s archaeological community
from 1965 to 2015. Tom’s papers oer a fascinating foray into the
introduction of scientific and anthropological approaches to
archaeology in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. In excavating these
archives, we organized records of fieldwork and analyses from
excavated EBA cemeteries and townsites (Bab adh-Dhra` and
Numayra). Color slides, black-and-white photographs, contact
sheets, and negatives; top plans and profiles; maps; survey
notes; correspondence about fieldwork and laboratory analyses;
grant applications; and original artwork of reconstructions of
life and death at these sites provide the essential background
for a comprehensive publication of Tom’s research. Much of the
correspondence is between Tom and Jordanian colleagues,
Meredith S. Chesson
University of Notre Dame
Morag M. Kersel
DePaul University
Sara Beramun
University of Notre Dame
Dayonni Phillips
University of Notre Dame
Theresa Kyoo Young Kim
University of Notre Dame
Fig. 59. Scan of one page from Tom Schaub’s pocket diary summarizing eldwork on June 9, 1977 at Bab
adh-Dhra` and Numayra. (Courtesy of the R. Thomas Schaub Papers).
providing insights into local thoughts on the archaeology of the region. Ultimately, we seek to
archive all items related to Tom’s research activities, and to produce a thorough finding aid for
the collection available online for future research. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA will house his archived papers.
Organizing and processing this archival collection is integral to a more complete understanding
of the history of archaeology along the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan as well as Early Bronze Age
small-scale urbanism. In 1973 Tom and co-PI Walter E. Rast adopted the New Archaeology’s
methods and theories to archaeological knowledge production and research design, devising the
innovative EDSP to investigate the rise of EBA urban society with a distinctive focus on links between
environmental and social systems. Tom’s correspondence, research reports, and presentations
chronicle their eorts to transform southern Levantine archaeology into an anthropologically
grounded discipline. His research into EBA ceramic technology set new standards of excellence by
combining petrographic and SEM analyses
of fabrics with ethnoarchaeological
studies of traditional potters working
with and without wheel technologies.
Like any bringers of change, Tom and
Walt’s research designs, methodologies,
and theoretical approaches were not
universally accepted, and preliminary
glimpses into the correspondence reveal
both skepticism and enthusiasm for
processual approaches to understanding
early urbanism in the EBA.
Moreover, these historical documents
oer an unparalleled view and profound
insights into social, economic, political, and
scholarly entanglements of looting and the
illegal antiquities trade of EBA objects from
Jordan’s Dead Sea Plain, the focus of a
significant portion of Kersel’s ethnographic
and historical research for our project,
Follow the Pots. The processing of Tom’s
papers will facilitate Kersel’s expanded
ethnographic analysis of looting while
simultaneously aiding Chesson to conduct
the necessary analyses of materials from
these EBA cemeteries excavated in the
1970s and 1980s for final publication.
This archive provides a treasure trove of
information about the changing nature of
archaeology in Jordan.
Project Website:
Fig. 60. Part of an aerogram from Walt Rast to
Tom Schaub, May 20, 1976. (Courtesy of the
R. Thomas Schaub Papers)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Harrat Juhayra is a collective term for the basalt foothills
around Jabal Juhayra, an isolated (extinct) volcanic hill at
the northwestern corner of the al-Jafr Basin, southern Jordan.
General surveys undertaken following the excavations at the
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B to Late Neolithic rock-shelter settlement
at Jabal Juhayra located four extensive Chalcolithic burial fields
on the eastern foothill. We designated them Harrat Juharya 1–4
respectively and registered exposed stone-built features one-
by-one as HJH-123 (i.e., Feature/Locality 23 in Harrat Juhayra 1).
The highlights of the continued excavation since June 2016 are
tailed ossuaries (i.e., ossuaries equipped with an elongated, tail-
like feature) found at the southern part of HJH-2. We excavated
four of the five registered examples, where several radiocarbon
dates corresponding to the Middle Chalcolithic were obtained
together with a small number of grave goods, suggestive again
of a Chalcolithic date. What follows is a brief introduction of
HJH-204, the most well-preserved tailed ossuary.
The excavation revealed an L-shaped composite structure (that
connects a trapezoidal rock ossuary and a tail-like feature at a
right angle) under a low cobble mound (Fig. 61). The ossuary,
measuring approximately 2.5–3.4 m wide by 7.4 m deep, and up
to 0.8 m in preserved wall height, used upright basalt boulders for
the foundation course and applied a stretcher bond, drywalling
Sumio Fujii
Kanazawa University
Fig. 61. General view of the tailed ossuary of HJH-204, looking southwest (photos by S. Fujii)
masonry technique for the upper courses. A narrow entrance was incorporated into the middle
of the eastern, gable-side wall, from which a corridor around 0.5 m wide stretched westwards. In
addition, a total of 17 square to rectangular compartments were arranged roughly symmetrically
on both sides of the corridor. Most compartments contained earth fill and were capped with
stone slabs, under which a large amount of human skeletal remains were found in situ. Seeing
that the cobble mound was only 1 m high, and that fallen stones around the masonry walls
were unexpectedly scarce, this ossuary is thought to have been constructed as a low-walled,
unrooted structure from the beginning. Meanwhile, the tail measured around 6.7 m long and was
hooked at its distal end. Unlike the adjacent ossuary, this feature included neither interments nor
grave goods. Thus, it can be interpreted as a symbolic attachment of the key structure, but its
specific function is still unknown.
A preliminary anthropological analysis suggests that the minimum population of buried individuals
is 19, and that they include five infants and/or juveniles, two young male adults, one young female
adult, two mature male adults, two mature female adults, and one elderly person (Sakaue et
al. 2017). Thus, the ossuary was probably used as an extended family tomb. Each compartment
included interments, with the exception of the rear north one. The number of buried bodies
varied depending on the loci from one to six. Most of the remains were disarticulated. Of interest
is the occurrence of several metatarsals with clear evidence of kneeling facets, which probably
means that these individuals were engaged in flour milling during their lifetime. In addition, a
few skulls with traces of intentional piercing were also attested. Anthropological analysis now in
progress is expected to shed light on the overall picture of the interment.
Meanwhile, grave goods were scarce considering the good state of preservation of the ossuary
and the number of interments, being limited to a shell bracelet and one basalt pestle. The
scarcity of grave goods is common to the other three ossuaries and, therefore, can be regarded
as the norm of Chalcolithic burial practice in the Jafr Basin. In addition, although outside the
ossuary, a figurine-like artifact 30 cm high was found beside the tail, sealed under the cobble
mound. This unique limestone product was associated with a pair of headband-like bands in
relief and a small, nose-like protrusion in its upper half. It bears some resemblance to a basalt
torso found at Qulban Beni-Murra, a Chalcolithic burial field near the border of Saudi Arabia,
suggesting some relationship between the two contemporary Badia sites.
Although badly disturbed by illicit digging, the other three ossuaries were very similar to HJH-
204. Before excavation, we never imagined that such full-scale burial facilities were concealed
under the seemingly barren basalt desert. The finding of the tailed ossuaries, coupled with that
of the adjacent contemporary settlement, is expected to provide valuable insights into the
Chalcolithic culture in the Jafr Basin which is thus far poorly understood due to the deficiency of
basic information. We would like to pursue our studies toward a better understanding of this key
site that bridges the Jafr outpost of the PPNB and the Jafr cairn of the EBA.
Sakaue, K., T. Gakuhari, S. Fujii, and T. Adachi. 2017. “Preliminary analysis of human skeletal remains
from Harrat Juhayra 2, a Chalcolithic burial field in southern Jordan.” Presentation at the 71th
Annual Meeting of the Anthropological Society of Nippon, University of Tokyo.
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
Shkārat Msaied is an Early/Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)
settlement located about 16 km north of Wadi Musa, close to
contemporary sites such as Baydha. Since 1999, the site has
been excavated by a team from the University of Copenhagen.
Recent work has concentrated on the building structures in the
southern part of the excavation area. The 2016 season aimed to
continue the excavation of the central Unit F, where all but one
of the burials were found so far (Kinzel et al. 2017). The season
was meant to clarify stratigraphic relations in Unit F, excavate
the human burials located in 2015, and check for additional
burials within the structure.
This season most of this densely compacted roof collapse
(Loc. 120.104; 120.135; 120.125) was removed and the floor of an
earlier building phase (Loc. 120.120) was reached in most parts
of the building. The lime plaster floor was well-preserved. The
roof collapse was composed of mortar lumps, clayish material,
small charcoal pieces, and small cobbles or small flat stones. A
number of articulated animal bones were found in the western
and southern part of the building, embedded in the collapse
but partially associated with the actual floor surface. These
bone concentrations are found mainly along the walls and
downslope.” A plaster feature (Loc. 110.130) discovered in 2015
was exposed completely. Two symmetrically-placed small pits
were found in the plaster floor (Loc. 120.119 and 120.122) which
Moritz Kinzel
University of Copenhagen
Fig. 62. Shkarat Msaied Unit
F (3D-model prepared by M.
contained grayish, ash material. A small stone box (Loc. 120.108), south of Loc. 90.120, contained
a single initial flake from a core which was place on a polished plaster surface.
Two additional child burials were also located (Loc. 120.105 & 120.131). Both sets of remains were
articulated, but missing their heads. While the first (Loc. 120.105) was carefully placed in a small
stone cist, the other was placed—comparable with one from 2015 (Loc. 110.126)—in a flat pit close
to the northwestern wall segment of Unit F. Marie Louise Jørkov from the Forensic Institute of
the University of Copenhagen was again in charge of the excavation and assessment of the
human remains. During the work we reidentified one small burial cist excavated in 2005 (Loc.
120.114/90125) and identified a potential burial cist east of it, just below Loc. 120.110. A larger burial
cist (Loc. 120.117) could be identified in front of the large orthostat. The burial was not excavated
in 2016 due to limited time. In addition to the excavation work we continued our eorts to backfill
the exposed structures to minimize weathering impact.
In 2017, a short study season was carried out at the Petra Museum to reexamine the stone beads
from Shkārat Msaied. Mette Bangsborg Thuesen undertook her study of the site’s bead material
in the framework of her Master’s thesis on stone beads from the PPNA site of Shubayqa 6. Some
of the results will be published soon in
by Bangsborg and Kinzel. Also in 2017 we
started an outreach initiative to promote research on Near Eastern Prehistory. In order to present
the results of our project to a wider audience, we are currently producing a graphic novel in
cooperation with the artist Nuka Godtfredsen. The story is based on finds stemming from Shkārat
Msaied and neighboring sites, but will also incorporate an “archaeological” perspective showing
how our interpretation may change the narrative of the story. It is planned to be published in
English and Arabic.
Fig. 63. Shkarat Msaied Unit F, child burial (Loc. 120.131) (photo by M. Kinzel, Shkarat Msaied Neolithic
Project, University of Copenhagen)
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
The Ba‘aja project, conducted in June 2017, consisted of
excavations in the vicinity of Ba‘aja and a regional survey from
Baydha, just north of the site. Ba‘aja, which is around 10 km
north of Petra, was previously highlighted by Manfred Lindner
in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to excavations by the German
Archaeological Institute from 1999 to 2010. These eorts did not
discover evidence of Lindners presumed “large Nabataean
settlement.” A visit to the site in 2016, however, suggested
the potential of Ba‘aja for Nabataean occupation was more
extensive than indicated by the initial investigation, based on
the large hydrological system on the adjacent massif associated
with a few Nabataean inscriptions.
In 2017, with a team of ten, we began to explore the site and
region for more evidence of the Nabataean occupation. Two
areas were selected for excavation: (1) the area adjacent to the
Ayyubid-Mamluk settlement in the north near the massif where
the earlier German survey had discovered some Nabataean
pottery and (2) at Wadi Umm Hamtha just 1 km south of Ba’aja,
where some niches in a cli’s rock face with some adjacent
ruins and a pottery scatter suggested a possible Nabataean
Near the Medieval settlement at Ba‘aja, the inspection of two
adjacent Ottoman buildings revealed that they were constructed
almost entirely of recycled Nabataean building stones with the
typical diagonal dressing. A sondage between the buildings
exposed mixed Nabataean, Roman, and Islamic sherds in the
top soil, including some Nabataean painted fine ware. These
finds suggest that a Nabataean settlement of some complexity
and depth existed at the site, requiring more time and eort to
explore than we had initially planned. For this reason, we shifted
our focus to the ruins at Umm Hamtha, just north of the waste
water treatment plant. It was immediately recognized that the
six niches that were initially presumed to be “cultic” were rather
David F. Graf
University of Miami
Fig. 64. Wall with niche, Umm al Hamtha
the springs of arches for a structure built against the rock face, based on parallels with other
such “niches” elsewhere in the area (Fig. 64). A series of four sondages were plotted where the
hypothetical adjoining wall would have been constructed in order to demarcate the outlines of
the building. Trench 2 revealed a well-constructed parallel wall ca. 4 m from the rock face and
about 0.70 m wide—evidently the supporting opposite wall for the arches. Most of the ashlar
blocks of the wall and the arches had been removed. The pottery produced by the sondages
included Nabataean fine ware, bowls and a lamp, with evidence of a subsequent Roman and
Byzantine occupation. The building was a 12 x 4 m structure with no discernible dividing walls
and a single doorway. The primary function of the building appears to have been agricultural
storage. A horizontal channel ca. 20 to 30 cm wide cut into the rock face above the arches
evidently prevented water from draining directly onto the structure.
During the regional survey, between Baydha and Ba‘aja, we encountered other such apparent
Nabataean farmsteads scattered across the landscape. Their origins were signaled by adjacent
Nabataean inscriptions, betyls, and nephesh. But the most remarkable discovery across this
limited region was several dozen wine presses cut into the protruding bedrock (Fig. 65). All
evidence indicates their origin to be Nabataean, and these are thus to be added to the 50 or
more wine presses already discovered between Baydha and Petra. The impressive hydrological
system of the Ba‘aja Massif, the scattered Nabataean farmsteads, and the numerous wine
presses in the environs suggest that this was prime Nabataean agricultural real estate created
in this dry, desolate landscape.
Fig. 65. Wine Press at Khirbet Makata
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
A still unsolved question of soil development and landscape
change in the Middle East is the question of loess deposition
during the Holocene. While large sediment bodies were
deposited in the Negev during the Pleistocene, they are
missing from the Holocene and it is unclear whether this is
related to erosion or reduced dust supply. A geoarchaeological
approach was applied to sediments in the remains of ruins
and ancient terraces in the vicinity of Petra, funded by the
German Research Foundation (DFG), and building on earlier
results of the Finnish Jabal Haroun Project (FJHP) as Petra
Region Geoarchaeological Survey (PRGAS).
Soils of the terrace remains around Petra are characterized
by strongly varying types and amounts of pottery. Their
geochemical properties, pollen, phytoliths, and biomarkers are
studied which allows to investigate these sediment bodies as
environmental archives. In order to compare the evidence from
Petra with the better-studied ancient runo farming systems in
the Negev, a comparative survey was conducted near the site
of Horvath Haluqim (Sede Boker).
First results largely confirm the project’s initial premises: while
intensive (probably irrigated) gardening was carried out close
to structures as the monastery of Jabal Haroun, other, more
remote terraces may have served primarily for flood control.
Sediments are largely of aeolian origin and could represent the
so far missing Holocene loess. The systematic comparison of
dierent ruin types (cisterns, ruins, terraces) as potential traps
of aeolian dust suggests that contrary to initial expectations,
cisterns are the most problematic archive as they have been
cleaned repeatedly, in particular during their time of use—and
later re-uses—lead to complex stratigraphic sequences. Ruins,
in contrast, seem to represent excellent archives. This means
that the debris which is usually removed as quickly as possible
may represent an environmental archive worth studying.
Bernhard Lucke
FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
Paula Kouki
University of Helsinki
Nizar Abu-Jaber
German Jordanian University
Fig. 66. Sampling sediment from a prole in the monastery garden
of Jabal Haroun
Fig. 67. Dust accumulated in the
remains of a triclinium on Jabal
Farasha near Petra
The site of Islamic Baydha corresponds to Khirbet at-Baydha,
about 7 km north of ancient Petra’s city center. The site was
settled at least from the Nabataean to the Ottoman period and
even remained in use until quite recently. The Islamic Baidha
Project, led by Micaela Sinibaldi and aliated with the Council
for British Research in the Levant, was launched in 2014. Here we
report on the 2016 and 2017 seasons (the third and fourth seasons
of the project; see Sinibaldi 2016 for the first two seasons).
The Islamic Baydha Project consists of excavations, surveys,
conservation, training and outreach, and is part of the broader
Late Petra Project, also led by Micaela Sinibaldi, which aims
at understanding settlement in the Petra region during the
Islamic period, a still largely neglected era in the history of
Petra. This broader project has provided solid evidence that
Petra and its surrounding region was not abandoned after
the Byzantine period. Instead, settlement shifted to areas with
better opportunities for water and agriculture. The site of Islamic
Baydha holds the most substantial and accessible evidence for
Islamic-period settlement in the Petra region, and focuses on
the relationship between the Baydha and Petra hinterlands and
the Petra valley during the Islamic period.
The village under current investigation includes a large number
Fig. 68. A tentative reconstruction
of Mosque 2. From above:
the excavated structure; a
reconstruction of the upper part
of the building; a reconstruction of
its exterior (Reconstruction by Qais
Tweissi on the basis of the team’s
study of the structure’s walls)
Micaela Sinibaldi
Cardi University
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
of clustered habitations and two mosques, dating mostly to the Late Islamic period (Mamluk/
Ottoman). Particularly valuable in the context of this research are two mosques, which are
currently the only ones identified and excavated in the region. They have been the focus of the
work in seasons 2016 and 2017. Following a study of village habitation and the beginning of work
at the two mosques in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the team focused its eorts in seasons 2016
and 2017 on the excavation of the two mosques. Mosque 2 has now been completely excavated
and recorded, and a 3D model of the building has been created (Fig. 68). The mosque, which is
in a remarkable state of preservation, has been reconstructed as spacious enough to contain
up to about 40 worshippers at one time. It was probably destroyed by an earthquake. The
building reused part of a former Nabataean colonnaded structure and was therefore accessed
by several steps down. It is built with techniques still in use locally until very recently. Mud mortar
bonded its non-rectilinear walls, themselves made of reused and very diverse building elements.
The roof, probably made of wooden beams and mud, was supported by two arches running
east–west, abutting two central pillars made of column drums reused from an earlier Nabataean
building. The mosque is now ready for site conservation and presentation.
Excavations at Mosque 1 have also revealed very interesting finds. While its building style and
architecture are very similar to that of Mosque 2, there are dierences between the two buildings.
Mosque 1 has dierent proportions and its two arches run north–south. This may be due in part
to the fact that the mosque was built on a number of earlier buildings, including one which can
be clearly attributed to the Nabataean period. The most interesting discovery was, however,
the presence of red-painted plaster covering large areas of the interior walls of the mosque, an
important element for reconstructing the decoration of mosques of this period (Fig. 69).
These last two seasons of the project included a study of the local modern material culture
in order to better understand the evidence excavated. Finally, it also included the training of
archaeologists from Jordan and the United Kingdom, and, like every season, a special day was
dedicated to visits by schools from the Petra region.
Sinibaldi, M. (2016), “The Islamic Baydha Project, seasons 2014 and 2015,” in G. Corbett et al.,
Archaeology in Jordan, 2014 and 2015 seasons,
American Journal of Archaeology
, 120.4, 660.
Fig. 69. Working on exposing the painted plaster along the walls and mihrab of
Mosque 1
A detailed archaeological survey in Wadi Aglat, located nearby
and to the West of Baydha, was implemented from April to June
2017. The entire area of Wadi Aglat was mapped (Fig. 70) and
all visible archaeological remains recorded. The survey revealed
the existence of an extensive winery over the full extension of
the Wadi Aglat from the western inlet to the eastern outlet
and from the northern to the southern clis. Before the winery
could be set up, the outlet of Wadi Aglat into Wadi Baydha was
completely barred by a dam of solid masonry with a height of
4.9 m. The construction of the dam led to the natural deposit
of the soil sediments required for the plantation of the vines;
hence, Wadi Aglat in its topography became a largely artificial,
man-made landscape. Upon the complete accumulation of
the sediments, the entire area was terraced for the planting of
vines and a sequence of 21 terrace barriers in total was erected
to dam up the runo water to the level of the plantations. The
terrace barriers in the upper western part of Wadi Aglat had an
original height of around 6 m and led to the accumulation of
huge sediments creating an extensive, even area for cultivation
(Fig. 71).
On top of a hill overlooking the wide and even upper part of
Wadi Aglat, the ruins of a large farmstead could be identified,
and this most probably served as the administrative and logistic
center of the winery. Two huge wine presses, one each located
in the eastern and the western parts of the wadi, allowed for
ecient processing of the grape harvest. The eastern press was
first mentioned by Zeyad Al-Salameen (2004, 176). Hydraulic
installations such as retention dams, water channels, and
cisterns in close proximity to the wine presses assured a sucient
supply of runo water for the needs of wine production.
Fig. 70. Topographical map of Wadi Aglat, original scale 1:500 showing the location of all archaeological
remains recorded (Drawing by Abdel Atheef Dhibeh)
Ueli Bellwald
Independent Scholar
2016 AND 2017 SEASONS
In conclusion, the newly discovered winery in Wadi Aglat is one of the most elaborate models
of agriculture by terracing in the Petra area, and furthermore it bears witness to long-term
planning and investment in the field of agricultural production. Estimations have shown that
the accumulation of the sediments upstream of the main dam and the construction of the
terrace barriers would have taken around 30 years. The entire surface for the cultivation of vines,
created through terracing of the wadi bed, finally covered an area of 5 hectares, which would
produce an annual yield of around 30,000 liters of wine.
As the winery in Wadi Aglat is exclusively accessible from Baydha by a monumental, rock-cut
stair-case, it is obvious that the winery and the rock-cut tri- and biclinia in Baydha have to be
seen as connected. The co-operation of the Wadi Aglat Winery Project with the Ba’aja Survey
Project of Miami University, directed by David Graf, has shed new light on wine production by
the Nabataeans and its socio-economic aspects. As the wine production is concentrated in the
Baydha-Ba’aja area, and considering the long-term planning and investment inherent to an
undertaking such as the establishment of the Wadi Aglat winery, the wine production was most
probably a royal monopoly with a governmental director as superintendent, equivalent to the
Praepositus Vinorum of the Roman Emperors. His oces and his residence could well have been
in the luxurious mansion excavated by Patricia Bikai on the elongated rock outcrop just to the
east of Siq al Barid (Bikai et al., 2008).
Al-Salameen, Zeyad. 2004.
Nabataean Economy in the Light of Archaeological Evidence
. Ph.D
Thesis, University of Manchester.
Bikai, P.M., C. Kanellopoulos, and S.L. Saunders. 2008. “Beidha in Jordan: A Dionysian Hall in a
Nabataean Landscape.”
American Journal of Archaeology
112(3): 465–507.
Fig. 71. Panoramic view of the upper, western part of Wadi Aglat from North. At the bottom in the center one of the major
terrace barriers with an original height of 6 m may be seen. To the right of the terrace barrier the enormous accumulation
of sediments is still visible, despite the erosion having taken place after the earthquake of A.D. 749 (Photo by U. Bellwald).
The 2016 Umm Saysabān excavation took place in September
and October in cooperation with the Naturhistorische
Gesellschaft Nuremberg (NHG). The excavation of the Early
Bronze II settlement was continued. The soundings of House
2 (Fig. 72) made in 2011 on the middle Plateau were reopened,
so the excavation of the whole house was completed. House
2 (3.20 x 6.25 m) was badly preserved, and the western wall
had completely disappeared due to erosion. The entrance was
probably originally located on the eastern side. Structurally, it
is a typical Early Bronze Broad Room house.
One of the newly discovered and excavated
buildings east of House 2 was the small
building 250 (Fig. 73). 300 m outside the
settlement to the east, a small sondage in a
singular round house (5.60 m diameter) was
carried out, yielding evidence that it too was
built and used during the Early Bronze Age II.
In both buildings the remains of fragmented
store jars and a few stone lids for these store