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Archaeological Expedition to Khirbat Iskander and its Environs, Jordan

Archaeological Expedition to Khirbat Iskander and its Environs, Jordan: Khirbat Iskander: Final Report on the Early Bronze IV Area C 'Gateway' and Cemeteries

Suzanne Richard
Jesse C. Long
Paul S. Holdorf
Glen Peterman
Carlos E. Cordova
James D. D’Angelo
Susan Ellis
Jeanette Forsen
Yuval Goren
Mary C. Metzger
Yorke M. Rowan
Lynn Welton
Volume: 14
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 470
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  • Book Info
    Archaeological Expedition to Khirbat Iskander and its Environs, Jordan
    Book Description:

    This volume is the first in a planned series of final reports on the Archaeological Expedition to Khirbat Iskandar and its Environs, Jordan, begun in 1981 by Principal Investigator, Suzanne Richard of Gannon University. Khirbat Iskandar is an important Early Bronze Age site situated on the Wadi al-Wala north of Dhiban. Due to its extensive stratified Early Bronze IV (ca. 23002000 BCE) occupation on the tell, Khirbat Iskandar is a seminal site for the period. This volume focuses on the excavation of Area C from 19811987, where a gateway came to light. In a period known for one-phase sites and isolated cemeteries, the stratified remains at Khirbat Iskandar offer important data on rural complexity in a sedentary community of the late third millennium, BCE. The volume also includes the results of excavations in the contemporaneous cemeteries discovered in the environs of the site. Along with studies of stratigraphy, the environment, ground stone and other artifacts, faunal remains, skeletal remains from the tombs, and C14 determinations, there are quantitative and petrographic ceramic studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-89757-013-8
    Subjects: Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-xi)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Suzanne Richard

    The original intent of the expedition’s pilot season in 1981 was to test certain hypotheses set forth in the author’s dissertation concerning culture change at the end of the third millennium bce in the southern Levant (Richard 1978). That work had posited the importance of sedentary adaptive strategies in the Early Bronze IV (EB IV) period (ca. 2300–2000 bce), along with strong continuities of Early Bronze Age tradition following the collapse of urbanism at the end of EB III, ca. 2350/2300 bce. Informing that study was the new evidence for EB IV sedentism beginning to emerge in Jordan at...


    • Chapter 2 Khirbat Iskandar and its Modern and Ancient Environment
      (pp. 21-36)
      Carlos E. Cordova and Jesse C. Long Jr.

      The site of Khirbat Iskandar (map reference Palestinian Grid: 2233.1072)¹ lies 24 km south of the town of Madaba and some 400 m west of the al-Wâla bridge, the place where the King’s Highway crosses Wâdi al-Wâla. The site is located in the territory of northern Moab,² a “mountain tableland” (Aharoni 1979: 36) designated in the biblical text as hammisor (e.g., Josh 13:9, 16, 17). This region is bordered on the south by the Wâdi al-Mujib, on the west by an escarpment overlooking the Rift Valley, and on the east by the Eastern Desert. The northern boundary is less well...


    • Chapter 3 The Stratigraphy of Area C
      (pp. 37-68)
      Jesse C. Long Jr.

      The stratigraphy of Area C represents three major architectural phases of occupation with some sub-phases (for the location of Area C on the mound, see fig. 1.2). The sub-phases are primarily architectural, but include several surfaces. These material remains date to Early Bronze IV, with perhaps some early EB III–IV ceramic material in Phase 1 (see Ch. 4). Earlier loci, probably representing EB II/III material remains, were exposed in the C8 extension during the 2007 season of excavation. Since the building complex in Phase 3 represents a unique Early Bronze IV “gateway,” the expedition decided to preserve the structure...

    • Chapter 4 The Area C Early Bronze IV Ceramic Assemblage
      (pp. 69-112)
      Suzanne Richard

      This chapter will focus on the typology of specific EB IV vessels from Area C, relying heavily on the quantitative analysis of the ceramic assemblage found in Chapter 5. The classification is based on form/size to determine basic types—59 Tell Code Basic Form non-random sorted categories—which, in combination with rim, allowed for the classification of 96 specific types, detailed in outline form below. The basic (four-digit) form code includes the vessel type (e.g., spouted vessel within the restricted form), size, and contour description, the latter varying for different form categories (see Ch. 5 for a detailed discussion). This...

    • Chapter 5 Quantitative Analysis of the Early Bronze IV Tell and Tomb Ceramic Assemblages
      (pp. 113-132)
      Paul S. Holdorf

      This chapter details a wealth of data based on a statistical analysis of the ceramic assemblages within each of three stratified phases in Area C, and of the ceramic assemblages from the tombs published in this volume. Moreover, collaboration with the staff of Bâb adh-Dhrâʿ, which ultimately included the adoption of their classification system (see Chs. 1 and 4), allowed for a comparative quantified study of their tomb and tell assemblages in order to identify key shared trends and to identify corresponding phases. That combined study provides a first attempt at a correlation of EB IV phasing from central and...

    • Chapter 6 Ceramic Technology and Provenance at Khirbat Iskandar
      (pp. 133-140)
      Yuval Goren

      This chapter presents the results of a petrographic study of representative pottery samples from the site of Khirbat Iskandar. Petrographic examinations of thin sections from over sixty vessels, representing the principal wares at the site, form the basis of this analysis. The objective of the study was to understand the nature of the local pottery production and to distinguish local from imported wares. By using mineralogical and geological considerations, together with the existing database of petrographic fabric groups of pottery assemblages from other southern Levantine Early Bronze Age III–IV (EB III– IV) sites, it was possible to suggest the...

    • Chapter 7 Faunal Remains from Area C
      (pp. 141-144)
      Mary C. Metzger

      The Khirbat Iskandar Excavations have focused on the EB IV period, following the disruption in urban settlement patterns that took place at the close of EB III. The results of the Area C excavations, along with other work on the mound, have affirmed that permanent sedentary settlements existed in the EB IV period. Combined with numerous other permanent sites in Jordan, the Khirbat Iskandar evidence qualifies past studies that emphasized pastoral nomadism for the period, at the expense of the sedentary element. The role of faunal analysis at Khirbat Iskandar is to provide a profile of subsistence strategies of this...

    • Chapter 8 Ground Stone and Small Artifacts from Area C
      (pp. 145-158)
      Jeannette Forsen

      This chapter describes the ground stone artifacts and small finds recovered from Area C at Khirbat Iskandar. A total of 45 artifacts is included in this study, representing artifacts derived from contexts dated to the Early Bronze IV (EB IV) period. Ground stone artifacts number 26; there are 9 chipped stone artifacts, while the remaining ten artifacts are ceramic, glass, and metal. Included in the original 126 artifact numbers registered in Area C, 69 were bags of lithic flakes/debitage (ca. 1400 pieces), 37 were ground stone, chipped stone, or small finds, and 20 were discarded in the field. This is...


    • Chapter 9 The Early Bronze IV Cemeteries at Khirbat Iskandar
      (pp. 159-164)
      Suzanne Richard, Glen Peterman and James J. D’Angelo

      The discovery of EB IV cemeteries in the immediate vicinity of the site of Khirbat Iskandar — to the south, east, and west — reveals the extent to which the inhabitants exploited their natural environment (fig. 9.1). That exploitation is far more extensive in light of recent exploration and excavation. Although not included in the present volume, it is relevant to note that excavation of a “high place” on the summit of the hill (Umm al-Idhâm) behind the site to the north took place in 2004 and 2007. Further work occurred to the east of the site (Area E) in...

    • Chapter 10 Excavation of the Area D, H and J Cemeteries
      (pp. 165-208)
      Glen Peterman and Suzanne Richard

      Cemeteries D and H are located across from the site of Khirbat Iskandar to the south on the hillside known as Jabal as-Sultaniya, and Cemetery J lies on a ridge to the west of the site (see figs. 1.4 and 9.1). For more information and a general summary of these cemeteries, see Chapter 9. All of the preserved shaft tombs excavated in these cemeteries were of the round shaft, single chamber type. The chambers varied from square to oblong or irregular. The interments all appeared to be secondary disarticulated burials. However, since all tombs located thus far were robbed/reused in...

    • Chapter 11 Excavation of the Area E Cemetery
      (pp. 209-222)
      James J. D’Angelo

      The area immediately east of the main mound, which Glueck (1939: 128) had referred to as “another fully as large, located between two small parallel wudyân,” was first examined in 1981 and 1982 by means of informal pedestrian survey (see figs. 1.5 and 9.1). The area was, at the time, under cultivation, about equally divided between groves and open fields. The southern-most portion of this area, nearest the Wâdi al-Wâla, had been developed as part of a government agricultural station, and was seen to be greatly disturbed due to construction activities that included buildings, septic tanks, and roads. Although not...

    • Chapter 12 Ceramic Assemblage of the Early Bronze IV Cemeteries
      (pp. 223-250)
      Suzanne Richard and Glen Peterman

      This chapter focuses on the typology of specific EB IV tomb vessels, relying heavily on the quantitative analysis of the ceramic assemblage found in Chapter 5. In parallel fashion to Chapter 4, the classification is based on form/size to determine basic types — 46 Tomb Code Basic Form non-random sorted categories– which, in combination with rim, allowed for the classification of 47 specific types, detailed in outline form below. As with the Area C sherd study, other variables included in the quantified study were handles, decorative elements, and surface treatments. The resultant specific types (or type series/typology) is an invaluable...

    • Chapter 13 Ground Stone and Small Artifacts from the Cemeteries
      (pp. 251-260)
      Susan Ellis

      This chapter describes the 30 objects registered from the 1984 and 1987 excavations of the EB IV tombs published in this volume. The assemblage includes three ground stone artifacts, six flint fragments or blades, eight metal pieces, 12 items of personal adornment, and a bone artifact. The descriptions in this study are based upon the tomb finds registry, drawings, and photographs, plus visual examinations of most of the items, whether stored at Gannon University or at the Department of Antiquities, Jordan. In the case of items that this author did not examine personally, the field identification of material was accepted....

    • Chapter 14 Preliminary Report on Human Remains in the Cemeteries
      (pp. 261-266)
      Lynn Welton

      This chapter provides a preliminary analysis of the EB IV skeletal remains originating from tombs in Areas D, E, H, and J during the 1984 and 1987 seasons of excavations at Khirbat Iskandar. Following an initial assessment of the remains in the field at the time of excavation, the skeletal material from six tombs was shipped to North America for analysis. The material remaining in Jordan underwent further examination during the 1987 season, by K. Gruspier and G. Mullen, and it is their field notes that form the basis for the report included here on those materials still in Jordan....

    • Chapter 15 Comparison of EB IV Radiocarbon Results from Khirbat Iskandar and Bâb adh-Dhrâʿ
      (pp. 267-270)
      Paul S. Holdorf

      In this chapter the results of two Area C radiocarbon analyses are set forth and compared with five Bâb adh-Dhrâʿ results from EB IV Stratum I. The objectives are to determine whether the Area C determinations 1) are consistent with EB IV dates, and 2) can corroborate the phase-to-phase correlations seen in the pottery (see Ch. 5).

      In 2003, two Khirbat Iskandar Area C carbon samples, numbers 1 and 2 on Table 15.1, were analyzed by the NSF-Arizona AMS Laboratory and the University of Tübingen, respectively. Both had been collected from Square 2, the first in 1987 and the second...

    • Chapter 16 Summary and Conclusions
      (pp. 271-280)
      Suzanne Richard and Jesse C. Long Jr.

      This attempt at summary and synthesis concentrates on highlighting the major contributions and conclusions of this volume. The authors believe that the wealth of excavated data presented here provides an opportunity to offer a tentative interpretation of the site of Khirbat Iskandar in the EB IV period. This interpretation is a critical analytical tool, for it will be a hypothesis to test against the EB IV stratigraphic and ceramic record in Areas A and B, and, ultimately, against the antecedent Early Bronze Age occupation on the mound. The view reconstructed here situates Khirbat Iskandar in its eco-environmental setting, illuminates its...

  11. Appendix A: Area C Ceramic Corpus
    (pp. 281-326)
  12. Appendix B: List of Loci
    (pp. 327-344)
  13. Appendix C: Inventory of Faunal Remains
    (pp. 345-354)
  14. Appendix D: Basic Form Classifications for Area C and the Cemeteries
    (pp. 355-360)
  15. Appendix E: Basic Rim / Handle / Base Classifications for Area C and the Cemeteries
    (pp. 361-364)
  16. Appendix F: List of Registered Objects from Area C and the Cemeteries
    (pp. 365-372)
  17. Appendix G: Inventory of Petrographic Thin Sections
    (pp. 373-378)
  18. Appendix H: Inventory of Human Remains from the Cemeteries
    (pp. 379-406)
  19. Appendix I: Specific Types Corpora for Area C and the Cemeteries
    (pp. 407-432)
  20. References
    (pp. 433-452)
  21. Geographical Index
    (pp. 453-456)