Research Unit Islamic Archaeology
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Institut für Orient- und Asienwissenschaften
Abt. Islamwissenschaft und Nahostsprachen
Forschungseinheit Islamische Archäologie
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Sie sind hier: Startseite Events Archaeological Field School 2014 - Week Two

Archaeological Field School 2014 - Week Two


Tall Hisban Excavations, 2014 Season
Reports from the Field – Week Two

morning tea under the tent.JPG village of Hisban in early morning.JPG

One of the joys of working at Tall Hisban is to be able to study simultaneously a Mamluk frontier garrison and the local community in which it is embedded. “Trash” and “domestic life” are the themes of this week, as we have been excavating, and comparing, the refuse patterns of the Citadel and the town/village of the 14th century. A trash pit associated with the Citadel, located just outside the Citadel wall on the north slope, produced garrison garbage (crossbow bolts and spear points, horse accoutrements, coins, much glass, and animal bones – the remains of dinners high in protein). In the settlement below the castle, residents of the farmhouses disposed of trash in the courtyard outside their houses, where we recovered traces of food production and consumption, evidence of animal husbandry, and a good assemblage of jewelry. We are also getting information on domestic life: the spatial division of houses, consumption of locally-produced and imported goods (some from as far away as Egypt and the Gulf), and the arrangement of houses and cisterns in possible family groups. There is growing evidence, as well, for local production of glazed pottery, which was an important industry and one usually associated with larger towns in the Mamluk period.

Our environmental specialists sampled intensively this week from all squares, for their larger study of crop rotation, changes in water use (cycles of irrigation and dry farming), food exchanges between the Citadel and village, and changing dietary patterns. Preliminary analysis of samples are being done in the field during excavation. Low-flying aerial photography this week by lightweight devices aimed at documenting the extent of the medieval settlement (visible through wall lines) and its associated fields (through ancient terrace walls).

We are frequently visited by dignitaries and colleagues during our excavation seasons. This week we welcomed the visit of officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, who have expressed interest in our research on historical water systems. We eagerly await next week the visit of participants of the Minerva Gentner Symposium “The Mamluk Sultanate from the Perspective of Regional and World History”, which is co-sponsored by the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg.

The evening lecture series continues. In the spirit of collaborative research, we had a joint presentation and mini-round table on environmental archaeology by three of our specialists – Dr. Chiara Corbino (animal bones, University of Florence), Annette Hanson (seeds, University of Gronigen), and Sofia Laparidou (phytoliths - University of Texas-Austin). This season our specialists are residing together in the dig house and working together in an intensive fashion. The result was a brilliantly cohesive presentation on climate, land use, and diet, with a focus on the Mamluk period. This Sunday we have another joint presentation, on the site’s water systems, by Prof. Stuart Borsch (Assumption College), Ivan LaBianca (our aerial photographer), and Henning Nitschke and Thomas Mewes (engineers producing 3-D mapping of the subterranean systems).

Last weekend’s tours were all-day affairs, which took field school participants all over northern Jordan. Last Friday’s itinerary included the Roman and Decapolis cities of Jerash and Umm Qeis, as well as Ajlun Castle and Pella in the Jordan River Valley. On Saturday, the group travelled within the Balqa of central Jordan, with a morning in Amman (Amman Citadel and the historic districts of the old city), and the afternoon at the “sister” tell sites of Hisban: Tall Umeiri and Tall Jalul. This weekend combines sea and desert. Today (Friday) is being spent at the Dead Sea and the Byzantine-era baptismal site of Bethany. Tomorrow (Saturday) we visit four of the Early Islamic “desert castles” – Kharana, Amra, Azraq, and Mshatta – two of which are undergoing extensive restorations. Lectures on the current restorations (and the important discoveries associated with them, including newly found inscriptions of the Mamluk period) will be given by members of the restoration teams at Amra and Azraq.

Submitted by Bethany J. Walker,
Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg (Research Professor),
Director of Excavations

Photos by Daniel Redlinger, Annemariee Schimmel Kolleg

6 June 2014
Madaba, Jordan


Amr and his reservoir team.JPG
Amr and his reservoir team


Anna Abdulaziz at pottery reading_sporting a jar handle.jpg
Anna Abdulaziz at pottery reading sporting a jar handle


Anna, Sofia, and Walker strategizing the courtyard.JPG
Anna, Sofia, and Walker strategizing the courtyard

ASK at Hisban 2014.JPG
ASK at Hisban 2014


Bob Bates final square photos.JPG
Bob Bates final square photos


Henning in the caves.JPG
Henning in the caves


Hisban full team 2014.JPG
Hisban full team 2014


Hisban hinterland.JPG
Hisban hinterland


Hisban summit.JPG
Hisban summit


Ivans aerial photography.JPG
Ivans aerial photography


Marly at the I-pads.JPG
Marly at the I-pads


Tarek Sabraa at second breakfast.JPG
Tarek Sabraa at second breakfast


Verena Ricken at pottery reading_elephant ear cookpot.jpg
Verena Ricken at pottery reading elephant ear cookpot