Islamic Baydha Project 2022/2023: steps towards publication

During the past few years, the Islamic Baydha Project has been moving towards data processing and publication of the results from the study of the two mosques at the Islamic village. In 2019, the Islamic Baydha Project team had a final season of excavations at one of the mosques, a season funded by the Barakat Trust and the Altajir Trust, with the goal to examine the relationship between the mosque and the courtyard outside of it, as well as the relationship between the mosque and the earlier structures on which the mosque was built.  With the start of the pandemic and the consequent difficulty in undertaking fieldwork, I have focused mainly on the processing of data and finds in preparation for publications, and on presentations of the project results, both in Jordan and internationally. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, I was based in Amman, where the American Center of Research allowed me to make use of the structures and spaces to carry out a study season, which was funded by the Barakat Trust. Being based in Amman, I was able to carry on my work through this difficult period for researchers. At this time, I carried out a study of the Islamic-period ceramic finds, as well as the flotation of the soil from the most promising stratigraphic units from all excavation seasons at Islamic Baydha. Thanks to the possibility of using the floatation machine of ACOR at the disposal of scholars, I could recover a good quantity of archaeobotanical materials from the two mosques and the habitation excavated by the Islamic Baydha Project. 

Fig. 1: Micaela Sinibaldi at ACOR working on the processing of finds from Baydha. (Photo by Jessica Holland.)

This has allowed me to encharge Annette Hansen to carry out an in-depth study of archaeobotanical materials at the University of Brussels, and, later on, to let her select samples for the purpose of C14 analyses from the most promising stratigraphic units.  The Belfast lab at Queen Mary’s University was selected for its experience of working with archaeobotanical samples, and the staff was particularly generous in communicating  with me about the strategy of selecting samples and the interpretations of the results.  Five samples from the two mosques were submitted, including olive stones and charchoals. These preliminary analyses gave only a few dates, but very interesting results: the most reliable samples from the mosques were dated between the 11th and the 13th century. 

Fig. 2: Micaela Sinibaldi using the flotation machine at ACOR in Amman, to recover archaeobotanical materials for C14 analysis from excavations at Baydha. (Photo by Jack Green).

The analysis of C14 at the laboratories at the lab at Queen Mary’s University in Belfast was carried out thanks to a grant generously awarded to me by the Palestine Exploration Fund in 2022. Although the grant allowed only to obtain a few dates ,and others will be necessary before being able to safely draw conclusions on the chronology of these two important structures of the Petra hinterland, obtaining the grant was absolutely essential to start the process and bridge the gap between this research phase and the next one, where  I will be able to send the Belfast laboratory more samples  from the two mosques, as well as from other structures in the village, as part of a new grant of the National Science Center of Poland that I have been recently awarded as a researcher at the University of Warsaw.