Excavations in Jordan enter their fourth season

12 October 2015

Excavation director Lucas Petit, curator collection Ancient Near East, National Museum of AntiquitiesExcavation director Lucas Petit, curator collection Ancient Near East, National Museum of Antiquities
Research on the hilltop shrineResearch on the hilltop shrine

In the first week of October 2015, a team of archaeological researchers from the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Leiden travelled to Jordan for their fourth excavation campaign there. This year, the team will both target the foot of the Tell Damiyah hill and continue investigating the remains of a shrine on top of the hill, which they found last year.

First week: excavation at the foot of the hill

Early reports from Jordan indicate that the archaeologists have already found a few mud bricks and concentrations of ash. These are probable signs of habitation, although it is not yet possible to say much about the dates. The researchers hope to learn more in the weeks ahead.

New research at the foot of the hill

The archaeologists suspect that there was a ‘lower town’ around the hill. Tell Damiyah is a fairly small settlement mound, with room for only a few houses on its surface. Yet various sources (the Old Testament and Egyptian relief art) suggest that this place played a very important role in the region, at least for large portions of the first millennium BC. This seems to imply that a larger area was inhabited than merely the 'pimple' now protruding above ground level.

Further research on the hilltop shrine

The researchers are also excavating on top of the hill. Last year they found the remains of a shrine there, including some painted clay figurines. They had not yet finished excavating the building, however, and this year they also plan to investigate whether the shrine was on top of another building. In this region, the same site sometimes retains its cult significance for centuries or even millennia. The result is often a series of temples and shrines stacked on top of each other.

The archaeological research at the Tell Damiyah site is directed by Dr Lucas Petit, curator of the Ancient Near East collection at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, and Dr Zeidan Kafafi, professor of archaeology at Yarmouk University. After preliminary research in 2004 and 2005, the present research project began in 2012. The excavation is supported by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities (Director General: Dr Monther Jamhawi). The project is funded by the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden and Yarmouk University.