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HUMAYMA PLAN OF THE ENVIRONS l'IO,CXXl CAS·TMv\ISMT 5-83 OLESON ~ PLAN 1 235 SURVEY AND EXCAVATION AT THE NABATAEAN AND ROMAN CITY OF HUMAYMA (JORDAN) In May and June of 1983, the first season of fieldwork was carried out at Humayma, the ancient city of Avara, in Jordan's southern desert 58 km northeast of Aqaba. The city was founded by Nabataeans in the fi rst century B. C., flourished during the Roman and Byzantine empires, and figures in historical events for the last time in the Ummayad period. Professor John Eadie, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is the project director and historian; Professor William Farrand, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is studying the local geology; Dr. David Graf, University of Montana, is studying the inscriptions and the road system; Dr. Lucinda Neuru of Ontario is studying the ceramics; Dr. John Oleson of the University of Victoria is studying the hydraulic technology; and Dr. R. Lindley Vann, University of Maryland. is studying the lower Byzantine church and directing the work of the architects at the site. Funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dumbarton Oaks. The Dorot Foundation. the Gazelum Foundation, the University of Michigan, and numerous private donors. The survey and limited excavation in 1983 focused on several important local and regional problems. 1 1The participants in the Humayma project would like to thank the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, and especially Dr. Adnan Hadidi, for its careful, sympathetic assistance in 1983. The project director has submitted a full report of the season's work to the Department for publ ication in the Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. Further specialized, interim reports on the various aspects of the site are under preparation by all the project participants . 236 J. P. OLESON Location The site of Humayma is perched on the northwest corner of the Hisma, at the west edge of a roughly triangular catchment area 1416 km 2 in extent (Plan 1). The area is bounded on the northeast by the dramatic al-Shera escarpment, composed mainly of Cambrian to Silurian sandstones, rising steeply 600 m from the rolling basin of the desert. This region is characterized by sandstone inselbergs that extend as far as Wadi Ram and Wadi Muqur near the Saudi border. On the west the catchment area ends abruptly at the deep, steep-walled wadis that lead to the Araba. These cut picturesquely through the pre-Cambrian igneous rocks of the Nubo-Arabian Shield, which everywhere underl ie the sandstones and occasional deposits of limestone to the east. 2 Humayma sits among the last of the sandstone inselbergs, Jebel Qalkha and Jebal Humayma, just 3 km east of the precipitous descent through the granitic western mountains to the Araba, but facing eastward towards a rolling basin of sandy soil. The ruins of the city cover approximately 2 km 2 in a wide, gently sloping, southward facing valley, at approximately 900 m a. s.1. (Plate 1). A few isolated sandstone peaks reaching 1000 m a.s.1. to the north and the foothills of the Jebel Qalkha to the west form an interconnected series of valleys and sloping fields around this portion of the city. The Wadi el Amghar and Wadi Qalkha, which fringe the Recent bibl iography on Humayma includes: G. W. Bowersock, J RS 61 (1971) 238-239, David F. Graf, Annual, Department of Antiquities of Jordan 23 (1979) 121-127, G. w. Bowersock, Roman Arabia (Cambridge, MA, 1983) 94, 173-74, 185. Useful descriptions by early travellers appear in R. E. Brunnow and A. V. Domaszewski, Die Provincia Arabia, vol. I (Strassburg, 1904) 476-478, A. Musil, The ~~~~~~h~n Hp~T::tin(a~~rei~~k 59 \~296}6) 5~~~~6, ~06_~~to, ;~iJs5~~if~.-a; Stein, IiLimes Reportli [1939], edited by D. L. Kennedy, Archaeo- (O~~ptIR.EI~~~~~~i~~~al°Ser~~:, 1 R 3°:Ja(O~~~d~ie;98~) 2~~~i98~as~ lFor the geology of the region, see G. Osborn, J. B. Duford, Palestine Exploration Quarterly Jan.-June (1981) 1-17, F. Bender, The Geology of Jordan (2nd ed.) (Berlin, 1974) 20-21. SURVEY AND EXCAVATION AT HUMAYMA 237 site on the...


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