Abstract: New Excavations at the Ancient City of Petra in Jordan
Lecturer: S. Thomas Parker
Ever since its rediscovery by western scholars in the early 19th century, research on the fabulous ancient city of Petra in Jordan has understandably focused on its extraordinary monuments: the magnificent rock-cut tomb facades, the temples, the main theater, and, more recently, its Byzantine churches. But this focus has provided a rather unbalanced picture of this great city, particularly about the lives of ordinary people in Petra. This new project, launched in 2012, is correcting this imbalance through a two pronged strategy of excavation on Petra’s North Ridge: 1) excavation of shaft tombs to recover biological and artifactual evidence, and 2) excavation of domestic structures to learn about the non-elite residents of the city.
The North Ridge is pock-marked by at least fifty rock-cut shaft tombs, mainly dating to the Nabataean period (1st centuries B.C. and A.D.). Although most of these tombs appear to have been robbed, excavation of several tombs revealed that they still contain much bio-archaeological evidence such as human bones and many artifacts. The North Ridge is also covered by remains of domestic structures, two of which were excavated in 2012. Both appear to have been founded during the Nabataean period. One complex was abandoned prior to construction of Petra’s city wall, which cut through these earlier domestic structures. Evidence suggests that the city wall was erected in the early 2nd century AD, around the time of the Roman annexation of Nabataea. The other domestic complex was occupied until a catastrophic destruction, probably the earthquake of 363. Analysis of all this evidence is providing many insights into the non-elite population of Petra in this period.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
The blog on the 2012 season: http://petranorthridgeproject.wordpress.com/
A web story on the 2012 season: http://news.chass.ncsu.edu/?p=4866