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NEWSLETTER PCMA 2015

Late Roman, Byzantine and Medieval

Beit Ras (Jordania)

Dates of work: 3–27 May 2015

Team:

Director: Prof. Jolanta Młynarczyk, archaeologist (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)

Deputy director: Dr. Mariusz Burdajewicz (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences)

DOA representative (Irbid branch): Eng. Amjad Batayneh

Archaeologists: Dr. Mariusz Drzewiecki (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań), Iwona Laskowska, archaeologist and Arabist (independent), Dorota Mazanek (PhD candidate, Center for Research on the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe, University of Warsaw)

Student-trainee: Rafał Bieńkowski (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)

(Joint description of seasons 2014 and 2015)

Fieldwork at Beit Ras in the Irbid region of northern Jordan, the site of ancient Kapitolias (one of the Dekapolis towns), established the nature of the architecture once present on the northern slope of the city mound, neighboring on the well-preserved remains of a 2nd century AD theater. An electric resistivity survey detected an alignment of walls apparently in agreement with that of the streets of the Roman-period town. The surface pottery collection provided a date range from the 2nd to the 12th/13th century. Surface finds included lumps of “raw” glass, pieces of slag and production wasters suggestive of glass-making operations in the area during the Byzantine–Umayyad period (6th to mid-8th century). Pottery workshops may have also been active here.

Testing (three trenches) in November 2014 uncovered a sequence of floors from the late Roman (4th/5th century AD) through the Umayyad (later 7th to mid-8th century AD) period. The architecture and installations were mostly of domestic nature, constructed on terraces, dating to the 4th–5th century AD. A mosaic-paved basin (6th century AD) and fragmentary wine amphorae attested to a flourishing wine-making industry between the 6th and 8th century. The buildings in this part of the town appear to have been destroyed during the great earthquake of AD 749. Agricultural activity apparently was resumed in the area probably in Fatimid/Ayyubid times as attested by a rock-cut cistern from late Roman/Byzantine times, reused (after a period of abandonment) in the 11th century.

The team benefited in both seasons from the cooperation and support of Prof. Nabil Bader, Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology, Yarmuk University (Irbid). The support of Polish Ambassador in Amman, Dr. Krzysztof Bojko, is most gratefully acknowledged.

[Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 25]