Abstract: Tall Hisban Through the Ages


Tall Hisban is a multi-period archaeological site located on the Madaba Plains of central Jordan. With views to the Dead Sea, the Byzantine ecclesiastical center of Madaba, ancient Jericho, and the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Hisban has for millennia commanded a special vantage point on the well-traveled routes of Syria and to the Holy Land.  Moreover, the remains of a Roman temple; three Byzantine basilicas; an Islamic-era fortress; a medieval-era village; and a vast labyrinth of caves and other underground chambers bear witness to the ever-changing roles the site played in the societies of its day.


Archaeological excavations began there in 1968 under the sponsorship of Andrews University and have been going strong for over forty years, making it one of the longest-running, foreign-led archaeological projects in the Middle East. Its Biblical associations and well preserved remains of the Middle Ages continue to capture scholarly and popular interest.


Today’s lecture will survey some of the most historically important and ground-breaking results of these four decades of fieldwork, highlighting debates over the location of Biblical Heshbon, the nature of Christian-Muslim relations over the centuries, the rule of “slave soldiers’ in the Middle Ages, and local tribalism as a social and political force.


Short bibliography on lecture topic:


Informative websites with videos, slide shows, and list of books and articles for further reading can be found at:




See also: Jordan in the Late Middle Ages: Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier (Chicago, 2011), by the speaker.





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