There are places on Earth that are truly exceptional; so saturated with traces of the past that they almost resound with voices of people who lived there centuries ago. When strolling along the roads of Southern Jordan, or when visiting desert archaeological sites located in this part of Jordan, we come face to face not only with monuments or information about the lives of local ancient communities, but also with today’s problems of their protection, restoration and oftentimes complicated perseverance in the contemporary world. Despite being a treasury of knowledge about our past, the Southern Jordan should be an unceasing field of needed scientific activities which may produce not only new historical monuments and other traces of the past but also a huge amount of information allowing for reconstruction of people’s lives in the past.
The archaeologist’s privilege is to study the past and communing with monuments, but also to look at the beauty of this region and the kindness and hospitality of the people who live in this unusual place.
POLISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN SOUTHERN JORDAN
POLISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN NORTHERN JORDAN
ANCIENT CITY OF KAPITOLIAS – RESEARCH OF THE THE POLISH CENTRE OF MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW IN BEIT RAS
New Polish research project in the southern Jordan, entitled Heritage-Landscape-Community (HLC Project), has been started in 2014. Archaeologists and students from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University conduct survey and excavation exploration of area located in At-Tafila Directorate. Project is directed by Dr. Piotr Kołodziejczyk. In cooperation with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities Polish archaeologists are looking for traces of human activity from the Stone Age to the Medieval times. The area of survey is located in the vicinity of important archaeological sites such as the capital of the Edomites – Bosra (now city Buseira) or refugium rock Sela, often interpreted as an important cult place and arena of the great battle between the Israelites and Edomites. The area is also close to famous Wadi Feynan – valley of copper mines, which has played a key role in the processing of this material and its exports to neighboring areas in the Early Bronze Age.
Cracow archaeologists are especially interested in finds from the Bronze Age, which may help to answer many questions related to human presence in the area of Edom in that period. Long-term research topic of Polish archaeologists is primarily a model of transportation routes in southern Jordan and the role of environmental conditions in the development and transformation of human activity in this area. The whole project will be a beginning of thematically and methodologically integrated, field works and analysis devoted to the role of landscape in archeology and cultural changes. The HLC Project is going to help in understanding the processes of cultural change and locate them in the context of nature and landscape. It will be also very interesting analysis in the context of modern Jordan and the development of tourism as well as heritage and traditions protection.
The works of project are conducted in very difficult, mountain area. Polish team made a documentation of more than 100 areas with artifacts which may be described after further analysis as archaeological sites. As an effect the collection of thousands of pottery shards and flint tools as well as several other interesting items eg. comb made of slate and pieces of glass bracelets probably of early medieval provenience were identified.
It is also worth to mention that activities of the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Jordan during the 2014 season was the first Polish independent research project on this area. Its start was possible thanks to the support provided by the Italian team of archaeologists from the University of Florence, working for many years in the area of southern Jordan, under direction of prof. Guido Vannini. While both research missions operate independently, they remain in a very kind cooperation and relations.
As an effect of our activities the first specialized project concerning Early Bronze Age in southern Jordan (see below) will be stared in 2017. This is possible thanks to the National Center of Science whose specialists appreciated our efforts and granted us a research funds for the next few years.
Fot. Piotr Kołodziejczyk
The Near East is an area not only very important for the history of culture, but also very vast and diverse. The history of the land legible thanks to many scientific analysis makes it one of the most significant for learning the history of mankind – from the moment representatives of our species left Africa app. 200 thousand years ago until the present times. The Early Bronze Age period in the Near East area is one of the most fascinating research problems in contemporary archaeology. Lasting for app. 1700 years (3700-1950 B.C.), the period abounded in events and cultural changes. During the Early Bronze Age the first urban centers appear, production technologies of various objects are developed (e.g. metallurgy) and long-distance trade flourishes. At that time important social changes repeatedly occurred in the lands of Egypt and Near East – the first kingdoms of spatial character appeared (Egypt in Predynastic, Archaic and Old Kingdom periods) and cities-states controlling smaller areas, a hierarchical structure of particular communities was shaped and gradually deepened, cults and funereal customs developed. Writing systems and the ideology of power and religion are developed and became a crucial factor of cultural existence. People’s migrations are clearly visible and the influence of mobile nomadic groups on the functioning of especially the area of south Jordan, which in an environment of dynamically changing areas could not be a “white spot”. Unfortunately, the state of research on the problems of the early Bronze Age in areas of the Levant is not uniform.
That is why the main aim of our project is an attempt to establish the role of the region of southern Jordan in this important period. Through archaeological excavations at selected sites we will try to describe the stages of human activity in this period in the area of interest. As an example, we’ll use the area covering the micro-region of At-Tafila city located in southern Jordan. Our goal will also be the answer to the question about the possible contacts of the region with Egypt and the rest of Levant which were the areas where at this time important changes were taking place and the state of research on Bronze Age seems to be much more advanced.
Thanks to already begun in 2014 surface prospection, we know that this region gives a huge chance of finding answers to questions which bother archaeologists. It consists high number of archaeological sites dated by us for the Bronze Age. Therefore, key research problems will be the issues of settlement network and structure, external contacts and influences, architectonic and funereal traditions and ceramic and flint stone production during the Early Bronze Age. Our excavations will be also supported by specialized laboratory analysis, so that we will know the exact age of discovered artifacts as well as methods for their production and use.
The work of our project will also provide an important contribution to the protection of heritage and archaeological sites in the area of Southern Jordan, often underrated today, because of its relatively unspectacular character (comparing to eg. Petra or Kerak sites). They surely constitute the key to the development of scientific knowledge. The study will also let us to develop work of polish scientist in Jordan in the coming years.
Fot. Piotr Kołodziejczyk
During surface prospection conducted by the Jagiellonian University within the framework of the HLC Project in the At-Tafilah district in 2016, several interesting archaeological sites were identified, two of which were considered as relics of medieval buildings with high research potential, and in which field work should be extended and continued in next years.
The first of these places is the Qasr ed-Deir site, located a few kilometers south-west of the city of At-Tafilah. The building that was established in this place towered over the landscape and the visibility from this place allowed to control a fragment of the so-called Royal Way. In 2016, Polish researchers began to analyze the destroyed building (monastery, castle?) and proceeded with its full documentation. During the research, fragments of medieval ceramics (including glazed) were also found, as well as remains of the grave robbers’ remnants (at the cemetery located east of the monastery/castle).
The main purpose of the works carried out here today is to perform a full inventory of relics and to establish their chronology (including possible stages of reconstruction). A photogrammetric inventory of relics and excavations in several places are necessary to determine the stratigraphy of the existing buildings and therefore those activities are being carried out. Some rooms inside the building were also partially explored, obtaining confirmation of its Byzantine affiliation, at least in the late phase of use. An interesting research problem is also the moment when the building went into the hands of Islamic rulers and its function in that times, as well as examining of the reasons and the moment of its abandonment.
Fot. Przemysław Nocuń, Piotr Kołodziejczyk
Dajaniya is one of the largest Roman fortresses in Jordan. It is situated approximately 30 km northeast of the Roman legionary fort in Udruh, 78 km south of legionary fort in Lejjun, and 19 km southwest of the castellum Jurf ed-Darawish, between two Roman roads running along the border: the Desert Highway, which runs along the old Roman road, and the King’s Highway, which runs along the same route as the Roman via Nova Traiana. It is situated on a hill at 1090 m a.s.l., which made it a good lookout point.
Dajaniya has been visited by many researchers and travellers. From a scientific point of view, the greatest role in the early stage of research on Dajaniya was played by Brünnow and Domaszewski. They made the first plan of the fort and published it in 1905.
The most extensive archaeological research on Dajaniya was conducted in 1989 as part of the Limes Arabicus Project, including seven trial trenches (Fig. 9). The archaeological work done so far has not provided a final answer as to when the fort was built. The material obtained in field surveys was mainly pottery from the Late Roman and Early Byzantine period (up to early 6th century). However, it also included earlier pottery, dating back to the early 2nd century CE. The presence of Early Roman pottery indicates that there was some human activity in the region then. Most researchers think that the fort in Dajaniya was built during the reorganisation of the border by emperor Diocletian in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. It was then that Roman troops were installed in a number of Moabite and Nabatean watchtowers and many new forts were built east of via nova Traiana.
It is also unknown what unit or even type of unit served there. Domaszewski believed that it must have been cohors quingenaria equitata, a mixed regiment of both infantry and cavalry. However, other scholars prefer to think that it was cavalry only. Kennedy and Riley concluded that either several different units or a half of a cohors quingenaria equitata were stationed there. They suggest that the structures in the middle of the camp were barracks, while those near the walls were stables, so both cavalry and infantry were stationed there.
In 2018 season team of archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University and surveyors and surveying students from the Faculty of Mining Surveying and Environmental Engineering of the AGH – University of Science and Technology in Krakow conducted a week long survey at the site. Our goal was to prepare a 3D model of the architectural remains of the fort as they are seen now. To accomplish it we used a combination of 3D laser scanning, ultra-low altitude photogrammetry (ULAPh) and close-range photogrammetry. The resulting model will allow us not only to better monitor the site for future damage due to both nature and humans but also will be a basis for a 3D reconstruction of the Roman fortress.
Fot. Maciej Bernaś
Tuwaneh (aka at-Tuwāna), is located approximately 5 km south of the road connecting Tafila with the castellum Jurf ed-Darawish. It is commonly associated with Ptolemy’s Thana/Thoana and Thornia in Tabula Peutingeriana. The site’s total area is estimated at 55 hectares. It spreads over two neighbouring hills, with Wadi al-Hasa in between. Approximately 2 metres above the bottom of the valley runs via Nova Traiana. The architectural remains on the south eastern hill are more monumental, as they were probably used by traders and travellers. Buildings on the north western hill are more dispersed and smaller, as apparently they had residential use.
The site was visited and described by many travellers and scholars, e.g. Brünnow and Domaszewski, Musil, and Glueck. No extensive archaeological work has been done on Tuwaneh so far. As part of the Via Nova Traiana Project, only a field survey was conducted there, from March to May 1992.
The survey, and particularly the pottery collected, indicates that Tuwaneh was built in the Roman-Byzantine period. Its development was fuelled by trade, as Tuwaneh was situated on the trade route between Syria and famous Petra, and so was visited by merchants and travellers. Large numbers of high quality pottery finds and the monumental architecture suggest that Tuwaneh was a rich city. The research done so far indicates that the fall of Tuwaneh took place in the late Byzantine period. The site might have been partially occupied in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods as well, but practically no early Islamic pottery was found during the field survey. Furthermore, there is no mention of the city in Arabic sources, which may indicate that it had little significance then.
In 2018 season team of archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University and surveyors and surveying students from the Faculty of Mining Surveying and Environmental Engineering of the AGH – University of Science and Technology in Krakow conducted a week long survey at the site. Our primary goal was to start a mapping process as no architectural plan of the site exists to this date. To accomplish it we used a combination of 3D laser scanning, ultra-low altitude photogrammetry (ULAPh) and close-range photogrammetry. During our survey we were able to document a central part of the city, the neighbourhood of the so-called karavanserai and the structure itself. Moreover we documented almost 120 robbery pits. We hope to continue our work in the future to complete the plan and even start the excavation.
Fot. Maciej Bernaś
Protection and management of archaeological heritage in Jordan was the research project which focused first on legislation and later on online databases. Dr Mariusz Drzewiecki created a list of all legal documents issued by Jordanian authorities throughout its history. The list consists of 144 records, including the foundation of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities issued in 1923. To assess the impact of online databases on archaeological research and heritage protection, Dr Mariusz Drzewiecki in cooperation with Dr Mahmoud Arinat launched a questionnaire survey among researchers and specialists working in Jordan. More than 100 people answered the questions presenting unique and interesting views on the subject. All were analyzed and results were published in Annual of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities and Levant: The Journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant.
During the winter and summer terms, Dr Mariusz Drzewiecki made workshops for students of archaeology and heritage management in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for archaeologists and 3D modelling. Classes were practical in character, focusing on work with specialized open source software atthe Faculty Computer Lab. At the same time, Dr Drzewiecki was learning the Arabic language at University Language Center gaining two university certificates.
Fot. Mariusz Drzewiecki
ANCIENT CITY OF KAPITOLIAS – RESEARCH OF THE THE POLISH CENTRE OF MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW IN BEIT RAS
Polish Centre Of Mediterranean Archaeology, University Of Warsaw initiated its archaeological work in Jordan with fieldwork under the supervision of prof. Jolanta Młynarczyk, which were conducted in years 2014-2016 at Beit Ras near Irbid. Prospection was concentrated in the north-eastern part of the ancient city of Kapitolias (one of the cities of the Greek-Roman group of Decapolis), just west of the monumental theater from the 2nd century AD. Excavations allowed to reveal a section of the northern defense wall and expose its creation not later than in the second century AD. Analysis of stratigraphy and surface finds revealed a number of chronological phases in the use of this area, from the 1st / 2nd century BC until -12 / 13th century. Artifacts and the discovery of the wine cellar from the 6th-7th century proved that this part of Kapitolias was an economic district, at least in the Byzantine and early Islamic period. They also provided evidence of two-fold destruction: the devastation of a nearby church probably during the Persian invasion in 614, and the earthquake in 749 AD.
In 2018, the Center Polish Centre Of Mediterranean Archaeology, University Of Warsaw undertook research on the site of Khirbet es-Sar (Sara), under the direction of prof. Jolanta Młynarczyk and prof. Mariusz Burdajewicz. Khirbat es-Sar, located in the western suburb of present-day Amman on the road that once connected the ancient Rabbat Ammon with the Jordan Valley, was probably settled from the Iron Age to the late Middle Ages (at least from the 7th century BC to the 15th-16th centuries). The highest point of the area occupies a square stone structure (“qasr”), in front of which lies a rectangular courtyard with rows of arcades on the long sides. Initial research has shown that this complex, which in the Greco-Roman period undoubtedly functioned as a sanctuary of an unknown deity, arose from the combination of two differentiated elements: “qasr” from the late iron period and porticoes from the Roman or Late Roman period.
Source of the photography: PCMA UW archives