Digging Up Jericho: Past Present and Future Conference

By Felicity Cobbing

A two – day conference was held at the Institute of Archaeology, examining the incredibly rich archaeology and cultural heritage of the Jericho Region – one of the most significant locations in the world for the development of human society, from the Neolithic onwards.  The conference was organised by Rachael Sparks of the Institute of Archaeology, Bart Wagemakers of NPAPH (Non-Professional Archaeological Photographs project), and the Council for British Research in the Levant.

Speakers included Rachel Sparks, Peter Parr, Stuart Laidlaw, and Beverly Butler of the Institute of Archaeology UCL, Lorenzo Nigro, Gaia Ripapi,  Daria Montanari and Chiara Fiaccavento, of La Sapienza University, Felicity Cobbing of the Palestine Exploration Fund,  Donald Whitcombe, Michael Jennings and Jack Green of the University of Chicago, Ignacio Arce of the university of Copenhagen, Bill Finlayson of the Council for British Research in the Levant, Lucas Petit of the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Graham Phillip of Durham University, Alexandra Fletcher and Mahmoud Hawari (British Museum), Kay Prag (University of Manchester).

Publication of the conference is in progress, but a video compilation of the day can be found below, courtesy of Bart Wagemakers.

Our 150th Birthday

By Adam John Fraser, PEF Librarian

150 years ago on this day the Palestine Exploration Fund held its first public meeting. The meeting took place in Willis’s Rooms in London’s St James’s Square at 3pm.

Fig 1. Detail from the PEF Minute Book for the first meeting of the Fund in 1865.

Fig 1. Detail from the PEF Minute Book for the first meeting of the Fund in 1865 (PEF Minute Book 1). Copyright Palestine Exploration Fund.

The resolutions passed at this meeting outlined the Fund’s structure and aims.  For the enjoyment of our readers, these resolutions, the Fund’s original mission statement, are included below.

1st Resolution

Proposed by The Bishop of London

Seconded by Viscount Strangford

That a Fund be formed for the purpose of promoting the exploration of the Holy Land and that the following Noblemen and Gentlemen do constitute the Committee and Officers with power to add to their number. 

2nd Resolution

Proposed by A.H. Layard Esq. MP

Seconded by Count De Vogüé

That the exploration of Jerusalem and many other places in the Holy Land by means of excavations would probably throw much light upon the archaeology of the Jewish people.

3rd Resolution

Proposed by Sir Roderick J Murchison

Seconded by Mr Palgrave

That in addition to the praiseworthy research that have recently been made by Frenchmen, Englishmen, and travellers of other nations in the Holy Land, it is highly desirable to carry out such a systematic survey as will completely establish the true geological and geographical characters of that remarkable region.

4th Resolution

Proposed by Professor Owen

Seconded by Rev. H.B. Tristram

That it is desirable that the animals, plants and minerals of the Holy Land be collected and that the facts requisite for their systematic history be noted by competent observers on the spot.

5th Resolution

Proposed by The Dean of Westminster

Seconded by The Dean of Canterbury

That the Biblical Scholar may yet receive assistance in illustrating the sacred text from careful observers of the manner and habits of the people of the Holy Land.

PEF-Portrait-Stanley

Fig 2. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster (PEF-Portrait-Stanley). Copyright Palestine Exploration Fund.

6th Resolution

Proposed by The Bishop of Morny & Ross

Seconded by Dr William Smith

That the thanks of the Meeting be given to his Grace the Archbishop of York for his conduct in the chair.

The men who proposed these resolutions were some of the brightest minds of their generation. Many of them had conducted their own travels in the Middle East and were independent scholars who studied the languages and customs of the region.  Although some of them were Biblical scholars the Fund was a secular organization. One of the most renowned archaeologists of the mid-Victorian period Austen Henry Layard (who discovered Niniveh and Nimrud) helped shape the Fund’s research focus.

Professor Owen (who eventually established the Natural History Museum in South Kensington) ensured that the PEF was not entirely concerned with the ancient history of the land but also that it collect current specimens, both plant and animal.  The Dean of Westminster’s proposal that the local customs of the people of Palestine be recorded (albeit for religious study) resulted in unique and unparalleled records.

150 years ago these Committee members put forth motions to ensure the PEF’s specific and unique identity. We remain committed to the ethos of these first resolutions by continuing to champion research in the Levant today.

Fig 3. Detail of the Palestine Exploration Fund's official Committee list.

Fig 3. Detail from an early PEF publication (PEF/1865/1/84/1). Copyright Palestine Exploration Fund.

 

Introducing… Our Committee

Our third profile is of PEF Committee member Carly Crouch.

C Crouch photo

Carly’s research focuses on the social and intellectual history of the ancient world, with particular attention to ethics and to the histories of ancient Israel and Judah.   She has written on the impact of mythology and ideology on the justification of military violence (War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East: Military Violence in Light of Cosmology and History); on the effect of economic, political and social changes in the southern Levant on ideas about ethnic identity during the Assyrian period (The Making of Israel: Cultural Diversity in the Southern Levant and the Formation of Ethnic Identity in Deuteronomy), and on the relationship between the book of Deuteronomy and Assyrian imperial power (Israel and the Assyrians:Deuteronomy, the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon, and the Nature of Subversion).  Each of these projects has depended on the latest research in the archaeology of the Southern Levant.  Her current research project is attempting to tease out the relationship between Israel and Judah in the Hebrew Bible as well as in ancient Near Eastern history.  Carly is the PEF’s Publications Chair.

Her University of Nottingham staff page can be found here.

 

The Secrets Between the Old Pages

By Dr. David Gurevich

“You are like Indiana Jones!”, a random visitor to the PEF archives commented on hearing the purpose of my work. I was standing behind a tripod that fixed my camera above a thick open file (Fig. 1). The well-aged pieces of paper contained the text of a manuscript written over 130 years ago. It was composed in Jerusalem and submitted as a report to the PEF office in London. “It’s so interesting. Perhaps you’ll find something!”, she continued.

The author examining plans at the PEF archives.

Figure 1. The author examining plans at the PEF archives.

Normally I would object at being compared to that iconic Hollywood character. The “treasure hunters” reputation of archaeologists was denounced in my eyes long ago. It happened during my first year of undergraduate studies. In the first introductory lecture it was explained that archaeologists do not hunt for treasures, causing a serious disappointment amongst the somewhat-naive audience. Having said that, today, after becoming a Fulbright post-doc research fellow at Harvard University, I do find myself in some way looking for a “treasure”, but of a different type – information and means that would help us to understand better ancient Jerusalem. This time I came after them to London.

About a year ago I visited the PEF for the first time. The modest entrance to its 2 Hinde Mews establishment hardly prepares the visitor for what he is about to discover behind the doors. Being a scholar in the field of Jerusalem studies, I had encountered the PEF’s pioneering work from the very beginning of my scientific career in archaeology. Actually, a significant amount of data that I analyzed in my doctoral dissertation came from the reports of Charles Wilson, Charles Warren and Conrad Schick who all explored Jerusalem on behalf of the PEF in the 19th century. As surprising it might be, several sites in Jerusalem have not been visited by any scholar since then. Such is the case, for instance, of Birket Israil, a huge ancient pool that abuts the northern wall of the Temple Mount. Warren conducted probe excavations inside the pool between 1867 and 1870, but in the 1930s the pool was filled with soil and a modern parking lot was created on top. Nowadays, this site of antiquity is buried deep below the surface, and keeping in mind all the political sensitivities there is no a chance to conduct new excavations. Warren’s data, therefore, was the primary source for my research.

Back to my first visit in the PEF archive. For the first time in my life I was examining the original letters sent from Jerusalem to London in the 19th century (Fig. 2): plans with signatures of Warren, notes written in old-style handwriting of Schick, yellowish pieces of paper with editorial remarks in red ink… I indentified a portion as unpublished material. How many secrets might these records still reveal? But it was also evident that I would need much more than a day to work on these precious materials. Thanks to the PEF grant program I was provided with an opportunity to come again recently, this time for over a week. My goal was to systematically review all the materials concerning the water systems of ancient Jerusalem. “Digging” for “mysteries” in the archives. In some way, similar to Indiana Jones.

Figure 2. Old letters are carefully arranged in archival files, titled by subjects. For instance, "PEF/JER/WIL" stands for materials related to the work of Sir C. Wilson on Jerusalem.

Figure 2. Old letters are carefully arranged in archival files, titled by subjects. For instance, “PEF/JER/WIL” stands for materials related to the work of Sir C. Wilson on Jerusalem.

The first thing you notice spending time in the PEF offices is a unique working environment. Whenever I took a short break, I wandered around the premises just to inspire the atmosphere. Each item bears a story. Here sits an old brown suitcase storing notes sent by the expedition of the historical Survey of Eastern Palestine. The suitcase seems also to be from the same period. In the main hall one notices an exhibition of artefacts obtained by the PEF through the years. Here are exhibited a few Crusader “grenades” (aka sphero-conical vessels) that were retrieved by Warren’s excavations. Nearby, one finds a few of the famous Shapira’s Moabite figurines (Fig. 3. Wilhelm M. Shapira was a controversial character in 19th century Jerusalem. He was an antiquities dealer, who is most known for his proposition to provide to the British Museum an “authentic scroll of Deuteronomy written by Moses”. The fragments of scrolls were, by the way, offered on “sale” – just one million pounds. And the Museum almost bought it.

Figure 3. Shapira's Moabite items exhibited in the PEF office.

Figure 3. Shapira’s Moabite items exhibited in the PEF office.

“Whenever you finish working with a plan, just put it please on the Temple!”, Ms. Felicity Cobbing, the Curator of the PEF, instructed me. “The Temple” refers to the model of Herod’s Temple constructed by Johann Martin Tenz which is kept inside a big glass case. Tenz was one of the gifted students in the handcraft workshop organized by the Jerusalem’s Anglican Missionary in the 19th century. And as my week in the PEF office went on, the pile accumulated on “the Temple” raised up higher and higher. Even when using the PEF’s loo, one encounters the archaeology: while sitting in-a-process, you notice a photograph on the wall. This depicts the Iron Age toilet from Jerusalem that is provided with a kind explanation of its function. Know your ancestors!

Perhaps the most exciting moment for me was when I came across a single short letter from 1901 (Fig. 4). It was written by Conrad Schick in Jerusalem, where he had resided permanently since 1846. In the last years I have studied his works systematically. The PEF has in possession probably hundreds of his letters, but this particular letter was different. “I am now about to prepare Plan and Section of the Jeremia’s Grotto for Sir Wilson, as my health in thanks to God, still good”, wrote Schick with his impressive cursive handwriting. Not so long after, he passed away at the age of 79. I was holding one of his very last letters. Definitely, a touching moment.

Eventually, my task in London was completed. I departed with a flash drive holding copies of many old documents taken for more careful examination. My goal is to discover what kind of answers these may bear. After “digging”, now comes the stage of processing the data. I’m looking for fragments of information that back in the 19th century were considered irrelevant and therefore were omitted from the published reports. Today these fragments may reveal shed new light on the archaeology of Jerusalem. Stay tuned!

C. Schick's letter to the PEF from July 22, 1901.

Figure 4. Conrad Schick’s letter to the PEF from July 22, 1901.

 

 

Surveying Umm at Tawabin, a Roman military site

By Alexandra Ariotti

Over the course of two to three days in January 2015, myself and Jordanian surveyor, Qutaiba Dasouqi, mapped the large Roman military camp of Umm at Tawabin (‘mother of bread ovens’ in Arabic) located on the south side of the Wadi al-Hasa, overlooking the town of Ghor as-Safi and the Wadi ‘Arabah in Jordan (Figs 1 and 2).

 

Figure 1. Myself and Qutaiba planning the site.

Figure 1. Myself and Qutaiba planning the site.

Figure 2. Umm at Tawabin on its west side facing north.

Figure 2. Umm at Tawabin on its west side facing north.

My goal was to document this historically significant site by photograph and by producing a topographical plan of its extensive enclosure wall encircling at least two forts, a possible observation post or tower, a likely barracks area, a citadel, and the numerous circular stone enclosures on the site’s west side, from which the site gets its name (Figs 3 and 4).

Figure 3. Planning the site with Qutaiba, the Jordanian surveyer.

Figure 3. Planning the site with Qutaiba, the Jordanian surveyer.

Figure 4. Main enclosure wall of Umm at Tawabin facing SE.

Figure 4. Main enclosure wall of Umm at Tawabin facing SE.

Over this period, I also collected some surface pottery, to be published, together with the site plan and photos, to learn more about the site’s chronology. Umm at Tawabin was first discovered in the 1980s and has since been described only briefly in a couple of past survey reports. We know it was an important site by virtue of its large size (880 x 453 m), by the number of its associated fortified structures made clear during the time we were planning the site, and by such historical sources as the Notitia Dignitatum Orientis (c. 400 C.E.) which lists the equites indigenae sagittarii, a Roman cavalry unit comprising native mounted archers based at Zoara (modern-day Safi) from the third to fifth centuries C.E. In this period, this military camp sat at the crossroads of the north-south and east-west communication routes flanking both sides of the strategically important Wadi ‘Arabah where the many east-west running arteries, roads and arable lands could be monitored, protected and policed.

Charles Warren in Jerusalem … continued

By Kevin Shillington

Charles Warren was a keen Freemason, having already at the age of 23 been the Master of a Lodge in Gibraltar. Before my visit to Jerusalem I had learned that Warren had been involved in a Masonic ritual in a cavern, somewhere deep underneath the Old City. There were two possible candidates for the site: one called ‘The Masonic Hall’, the other ‘King Solomon’s Quarry.’ A recent book on Warren’s Freemasonry appears to claim that these two sites were one and the same – hence my need to clarify the issue.[i] The site known as the ‘Masonic Hall’ is a chamber that Warren tunnelled his way into in February 1869. It was half-filled with rubble and soil, but rising out of the centre of the earth floor was a smooth pillar with a broken top. The scene reminded Warren of a traditional Masonic myth and so he named the chamber the ‘Masonic Hall’ (Figs 1 & 2). The famous war artist William Simpson, also a senior Freemason, was visiting Jerusalem a month later and he sketched the scene. As can be seen from Simpson’s sketch, the column was originally the support for twin arches that lined the roof.

 

The ‘Masonic Hall’ as drawn by William Simpson, from a copy in the Masonic journal Ars Quatour Coronati, 1888. Warren ordered the clearing of the rubble, which, when he first entered the chamber, reached up to the mark on the column.

Figure 1. The ‘Masonic Hall’ as drawn by William Simpson, from a copy in the Masonic journal Ars Quatour Coronati, 1888. Warren ordered the clearing of the rubble, which, when he first entered the chamber, reached up to the mark on the column. By the time Simpson made his sketch, the hall had been partially cleared of rubble.

Figure 2. The ‘Masonic Hall’ today, part of the ‘Western Walls’ archaeological complex. Warren broke in through the hole in the roof – the dark patch against the back wall, right of centre. The earth at that time was two-thirds of the way up the column. [Photo KS]

Figure 2. The ‘Masonic Hall’ today, part of the ‘Western Walls’ archaeological complex. Warren broke in through the hole in the roof – the dark patch against the back wall, right of centre. The earth at that time was two-thirds of the way up the column. [Photo KS]

The other site was Zedekiah’s Cave, also known as King Solomon’s Quarry. The cave, long-known from ancient and medieval times, had been blocked up, but the entrance was rediscovered by Dr James Barclay in 1854, or rather by Dr Barclay’s dog, that disappeared down through a hole into the cave while being taken for a walk. The entrance is just outside the city wall near Damascus Gate and the cave extends through numerous chambers for several hundred metres. It is clearly the product of human quarrying and when Warren saw the evidence that stone masons had cut huge blocks out of the walls of the cavern, he convinced himself that this must be the work of King Solomon’s stone masons. In Freemasonry tradition, the latter were the original Freemasons, from whom the modern ones take their inspiration. What better place to hold an unofficial Masonic meeting?

Dr Robert Morris, an American Freemason, visited Jerusalem in May 1868 and Warren proposed that they hold a meeting in the far depths of King Solomon’s Quarry, as near as possible to the site of the Temple Mount above (see Figs 3,4 & 5).

Figure 3. The Freemason Leon Zeldis of Hertzlya kindly allowed me to see his copy of this very rare book by the American Freemason, Robert Morris and to make photocopies of the relevant pages that recorded the Masonic meeting in Zedekiah’s Cave.

Figure 3. The Freemason Leon Zeldis of Herzlya kindly allowed me to see his copy of this very rare book by the American Freemason, Robert Morris and to make photocopies of the relevant pages that recorded the Masonic meeting in Zedekiah’s Cave.

Figure 4. An illustration of the cavern in Zedekiah’s Cave, as reproduced in Morris’s book. The etching was based upon Morris’s account of the Masonic meeting held there in May 1868, which describes a pillar in the centre of the cavern and a flat rock which they were able to use as an altar for their ritual.

Figure 5.

Figure 5. The author in one of the caverns of the Cave, with the mason’s marks clearly visible in the roof and the far wall. In fact the quarrying was far more likely to be of the Herodian and Medieval periods and seems to have been blocked up in the 16th Century. Photo KS.

There is no contemporary claim that Warren or anybody else held a Masonic meeting in the ‘Masonic Hall’. In modern times, Freemasons rarely, but occasionally, follow Warren’s example and hold meetings in Zedekiah’s Cave.

[i] C.N. Macdonald, WARREN! The Bond of Brotherhood (Colin Neil Macdonald, Singapore, 2007), p56.

Semi-Precious Stone Beads at the PEF

By Geoffrey Ludvik

For over a century, archaeologists with the PEF have dedicated their academic lives to understanding the economic, political, and ideological development of Palestine. My project uses an unlikely lens through which I study questions of socio-economic interaction: semi-precious stone beads (Fig. 1).

Image 1: carnelian beads from Gezer, mixed contexts, R.A.S Macalister excavations, PEF #3224.

Figure 1: Carnelian beads from Gezer, mixed contexts, R.A.S Macalister excavations, PEF #3224.

Semi-precious stone beads, such as the carnelian beads from Gezer pictured above, represented objects of great value in the ancient Near East and are among the most common finds uncovered in tombs, palaces, and as offerings in temples. The raw materials from which the stones originated are geographically limited and trade networks were necessary to acquire them. Moreover, bead styles and production technology varied regionally, as different workshops made beads in different ways. I seek to define regional canons of manufacture techniques and styles that archaeologists in Palestine can use to identify the source of beads we discover, be they Egyptian, Anatolian, Greek, Mesopotamian, or even the Indus Valley.

At the PEF, I have analyzed the semi-precious stone beads excavated from the important site of Gezer, Israel, by R. A. S. Macalister in the early 20th century. I was able to identify imports at Gezer that have their best parallels in 3rd millennium BC Indus-style beads made in Mesopotamia and the 3rd millennium BC Persian Gulf.  Most imports seem to have come from Egypt and Anatolia. It seems that Gezer was well-connected and an important node in regional economies that linked societies of the ancient Near East. As I continue analysis, I hope to identify even more evidence for Gezer’s interactions.

 

Charles Warren: Pioneer of Jerusalem Archaeology, 1867-70

By Kevin Shillington

The larger project, of which this forms a part, is a full biography of Sir Charles Warren (1840-1927), Royal Engineer extraordinaire. Warren first came to prominence in the mid-Victorian Age as ‘Jerusalem Warren’, the man generally credited with pioneering archaeological excavation in, around, and under, the Old City of Jerusalem, and in particular, the Haram al-Sharif (which Warren translated as ‘The Noble Sanctuary’), known to Jews as the ‘Temple Mount’. As someone with no previous knowledge of Jerusalem or its archaeology, I felt it essential that I ‘walk in the footsteps of Warren’ as well as talk to current archaeologists about the significance of Warren and his work, and the PEF was kind enough to award me a grant to cover my flight and hotel: 20 October – 1 November 2014.

First I needed to understand the topography of Jerusalem – extremely complicated and very difficult to visualise from purely archival and literary study.

Fig.1: This view of the south-east corner of the Haram was taken from the top of the Mount of Olives. The wall in shadow to the right of the picture is the eastern face, that in sunlight, the southern face. The wall leading away to the top left of the picture, alongside the main road, is the southern wall of the Old City. At the bottom of the picture is the sharp fall-away of the Kidron Valley. I found I could not make sense of this topography until I had walked round and through the entire Old City. [Photo: KS]

Fig.1: View of the south-east corner of the Haram taken from the top of the Mount of Olives. [Photo: KS]

The wall in shadow to the right of Fig 1 is the eastern face of the Haram, the wall in sunlight is the southern face. The wall leading away to the top left of the picture, alongside the main road, is the southern wall of the Old City. At the bottom of the picture is the sharp fall-away of the Kidron Valley. I found I could not make sense of this topography until I had walked round and through the entire Old City.

Understanding Warren’s Jerusalem in the light of today’s Old City is aided by illustration (Figs 2-4):

Fig.2:  The buttress of Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall of the Haram, photographed by Felix Bonfils in the 1850s and thus, as it appeared when ‘discovered’ by the American theologian Edward Robinson in 1852. [Picture reproduced by kind permission of Fr Jean-Michel Tarragon, from his collection at the Ecole Bibliotheque, Jerusalem.]

Fig.2: The buttress of Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall of the Haram, photographed by Felix Bonfils in the 1850s and thus, as it appeared when ‘discovered’ by the American theologian Edward Robinson in 1852. [Picture reproduced by kind permission of Fr Jean-Michel Tarragon, from his collection at the Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem.]

Fig.3: Robinson’s Arch in Warren’s day, from the famous Simpson etching of 1867 [original in PEF Archive], with Warren seated with drawing board on his lap.

Fig.3: Robinson’s Arch in Warren’s day, from the famous Simpson etching of 1867 [original in PEF Archive], with Warren seated with drawing board on his lap.

Fig.4 : Robinson’s Arch 147 years later (2014) with, in the centre of the paved street, a metal fence guarding the underground access to Warren’s actual shaft, sunk in the picture above. Warren excavated down to bedrock (a practice which he maintained in all his shafts), which is the same depth again as that between today’s ground level and the base of Robinson’s Arch.[Photo: KS]

Fig.4 : Robinson’s Arch 147 years later (2014) with, in the centre of the paved street, a metal fence guarding the underground access to Warren’s actual shaft, sunk in the picture above. Warren excavated down to bedrock (a practice which he maintained in all his shafts), which is the same depth again as that between today’s ground level and the base of Robinson’s Arch.[Photo: KS]

I was fortunate to have Dr Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who for the past three years has been “continuing Warren’s research”, to guide me through the ‘warren’ of Warren’s ‘underground Jerusalem’ (Figs 5-7).

Fig 5, Slomit & piece of Rob. Arch DSC_0793

Fig 5: Dr Weksler-Bdolah showing me a reproduction of a large piece of rock that had fallen from Robinson’s actual Arch, probably during the Roman destruction of AD 70. [The original is in the Museum]. It was part of the underground ‘rubble’ that Warren blasted his way through with dynamite, causing damage to the rock itself, as can be seen from this picture. [Photo: KS]

Fig.6: One of the ‘galleries’ that Warren and his team excavated below Robinson’s Arch, from a copy of the original Simpson painting in the PEF Archive, showing Warren with lighted candle peering round a huge rock that blocked the roof of his tunnel.

Fig.6: One of the ‘galleries’ that Warren and his team excavated below Robinson’s Arch, from a copy of the original Simpson painting in the PEF Archive, showing Warren with lighted candle peering round a huge rock that blocked the roof of his tunnel.

Fig.7: The author, with electric torch in hand, in the same place today, which has been excavated much deeper for easier passage than in Warren’s day. The rail above was for transporting buckets of rubble cleared in modern times. [Photo: PS]

Fig.7: The author, with electric torch in hand, in the same place today, which has been excavated much deeper for easier passage than in Warren’s day. The rail above was for transporting buckets of rubble cleared in modern times. [Photo: PS]

To be continued …

The Islamic Bayda Project

By Micaela Sinibaldi

The Islamic Bayda Project, affiliated with Cardiff University, was launched in 2014. It is co-funded by the Barakat Trust and the Palestine Exploration Fund.

During this first season of excavations, we excavated some habitations of this Islamic-period agricultural village to collect evidence about daily life at the site.

The Islamic Bayda Project team, 2014

The Islamic Bayda Project team, 2014. From left to right: Mohammed Abdullah Ammarin; Siham Nawafle (Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Representative); Ahmad Ibrahim Ammarin; Heather Crowley (Cardiff University, PhD student); Micaela Sinibaldi (Cardiff University, project director); Ghassem Jibril Ammarin. Standing in the trench: Mohammed Eid Ammarin. Photo: Qais Tweissi.

Cleaning a surface of occupation in the habitation courtyard.

Cleaning a surface of occupation in the habitation courtyard. In this area, we found a tabun (bread oven), and another one was found in the other sector of the trench. Photo: Qais Tweissi.

The visit by the staff of the American Center of Oriental Research: Barbara Porter (ACOR Director) and Glenn Corbett (ACOR associate director) with Micaela Sinibaldi, project director.

The visit by the staff of the American Center of Oriental Research: Barbara Porter (ACOR Director) and Glenn Corbett (ACOR associate director) with Micaela Sinibaldi, project director. Photo: Heather Crowley.

Tea break.

Twice a day we have a break to enjoy (very) sweet, energizing Bedouin tea, which is prepared every time by a different team member. Photo: Qais Tweissi.

Team members relaxing after a long final day in the field, and all dressed up for the final dinner of the Islamic Bayda Project. For this occasion, we organized a barbecue in Bayda, where we grilled chicken and vegetables.

Team members relaxing after a long final day in the field, and all dressed up for the final dinner of the Islamic Bayda Project. For this occasion, we organized a barbecue in Bayda, where we grilled chicken and vegetables. Photo: Micaela Sinibaldi.

The project has also launched a new initiative, the Schools Day.  Organised in collaboration with the Petra Archaeological Park, this year the project invited girls from schools in Bayda, Umm Sayun and Wadi Mousa (Petra region) to join us at the site with their teachers. The main aim of this activity was to involve the local communities in our archaeological work at Bayda. On this occasion, the students were introduced to the main features of the site and the meaning of the archaeologist’s job. The damaging effects of looting on the archaeological record were also discussed.

The schools day at the Islamic Bayda Project: visit to the church.

The Schools Day at the Islamic Bayda Project: visit to the church, which was created by reusing a Nabataean-period structure. Photo: Qais Tweissi.

The schools day at the Islamic Bayda Project: visit to the mosque.

The Schools Day at the Islamic Bayda Project: visit to the remains of the mosque and discussion about the effects of looting on the archaeological site. Photo: Qais Tweissi.

The schools day at the Islamic Bayda Project: visit to the trench.

The Schools Day at the Islamic Bayda Project: visit to the trench and questions and answer session on the job of the archaeologist. Photo: Heather Crowley.

 

The Umm al-Biyara Project

By Piotr Bienkowski

The following images come from our early spring season of excavations on top of Umm al-Biyara in Jordan, in March-April 2014.

When the team arrived in Jordan to excavate, it was snowing! A couple of days later it was 30 degrees and nearly too hot to work...

When the team arrived in Jordan to excavate, it was snowing! A couple of days later it was 30 degrees and nearly too hot to work…

 

A German TV crew filming our work on Umm al-Biyara.

A German TV crew filming our work on Umm al-Biyara.

 

Our base on top of Umm al-Biyara is a cave – here we are cooking lunch on the fire outside the cave.

Our base on top of Umm al-Biyara is a cave – here we are cooking lunch on the fire outside the cave.

Extreme surveying... The Nabataean buildings on top of Umm al-Biyara are built on the very edge of the summit, making it tricky to survey them safely...

Extreme surveying… The Nabataean buildings on top of Umm al-Biyara are built on the very edge of the summit, making it tricky to survey them safely…