Heritage Fellow Finds a Stone with Ancient Drawing in an Iron Age Reservoir

Abelardo Rivas with the team of Jalul Square W-7, Dr. Randall Younker, Dr Elena Gregor, and the stone in situ at the center of the square. On the left of the group is the partition wall and on the right side the plaster of the reservoir.

By: Abelardo Rivas, Andrews University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This year I participated, thanks to the Heritage Scholarship, in two excavations in Jordan. My duty was to supervise two squares, one at Tell Jalul and a second square at Khirbet Atarutz. Our goal for the season in square W-7 at Jalul was to trace the development, on the southern slope of the central depression in field W, of the wall and plaster of the Iron Age water reservoir found last season. To our surprise, during the first week we found a wall that seemed to be completely unaligned with the wall of the cistern and we thought it was perhaps a sharp turn. However, as we continue to dig, it became clear that such wall on the northeastern corner of the square was more a partition wall within the reservoir. Indeed, we eventually found the plaster of the cistern, the wall may have been robed, about a meter bellow the partition wall following the logical line demarked by the depression and correlating with the section of the plaster excavated last season in square W-5. At the center of the square, as we removed a layer of stumbled rock, we found a stone with drawing, may be Islamic, which called the attention of the entire team because of its potential significance. The drawing consists of several geometrical patterns, most of the circulars/square, over imposed one upon the other. At each corner of each pattern a semicircle is drawn surrounded by a set of small triangles. The center of the drawing is a square formed by the over imposition of each pattern and at the internal corners are a set of four rectangles. The suggestions run from an Islamic Blue Print of a building to an Islamic artistic design or ornament. Yet, one person argued it is not Islamic. Therefore, further studies will reveal its true content.

Drawing on the stone found in Jalul W-7, 2012

On the second excavation project at Atarutz, we set as our goal in square F-4 to trace the structure of a potential wall which started in square F-3. Again, to our surprise we not only excavated one wall but four walls. Indeed, one of them, wall 14, is an internal division of the structure. The pottery was domestic Iron Age including cooking pots, storage jars, jugs, bowls, kraters, whole mouth kraters, and painted Moabite/Ammonite ware. The eastern area of the square also presented ash pockets along with carbonized samples and burned pottery. This seems to indicate cooking evidence. Most likely, this was a house and its use seems to correlate to the period of the temple found in field E. Yet more excavations will be required since we were unable to reach floor level this season.

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