This summer the ASOR Heritage Fellowship allowed me to participate in a season of excavation at Tall al-‘Umayri with the Madaba Plains Project, directed by Douglas Clark. I have worked at ‘Umayri as the supervisor of Field H, located on the southwestern acropolis of the tell, since 2008. The goals for excavation this season included investigation along the southern face of a large, Late Iron I wall running along the southern boundary of the field and of the tell. We wanted to understand the activities along the southern lip of the tell and to prepare for the eventual removal of the wall, one of the last substantial architectural features remaining in Field H that belonged to a Late Iron I/Early Iron II open-air courtyard sanctuary excavated in earlier seasons. The results of our work indicate that activity related to the sanctuary continued to extend south of this large bordering wall, using the southern face of the wall to form a series of narrow rooms. Particular finds included a large stone bench and a unique chalice with a figurine appliquéd below the exterior of its rim. This work helps complete our picture of the full extent of the courtyard sanctuary in all of its phases, including the construction of the large wall. An earlier phase of this wall may have been constructed as part of an Iron I domestic structure underlying the courtyard sanctuary, posing interesting possibilities for studying the continuity and reuse of architecture throughout the Iron I period in this location.
We also used a fiberglass boom to take low-level aerial photographs of the Iron I domestic structure that were then georeferenced with an RTK GPS system. These georeferenced photos will enable me to easily create architectural drawings and top plans, as well as perform spatial analyses in the areas photographed for my dissertation, which focuses on Iron I domestic architecture in Transjordan. I spent a month at the American Center of Oriental Research after the excavation season researching Iron I sites in Jordan with comparable domestic architecture to that at ‘Umayri, as well as researching household archaeology studies.
This summer’s work would not have been possible without the support of the ASOR Heritage Fellowship, as well as the support of ACOR and ACOR’s James A. Sauer and Bert and Sally de Vries Fellowships, the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, and the participation of the ‘Umayri team volunteers and Jordanian workmen.