Tell Ya'amun: The 2004 Season

Jerry Rose tries to find a tomb he saw the previous year



Co-directors: Prof. Jerome Rose, University of Arkansas Prof. Mahmoud el-Najjar, Yarmouk University

Inspectors Department of Antiquities: Mr. Adnan Naqrash and Mr. Mohammad Al-Bashabsheh

Archaeologist: Dr. Nizar Turshan

Registrar: Dr. Dolores Burke

Photographer: Husein Debajeh

Surveyor: Muwafaq Bataineh

Supervisors: Faris Bdeir, Nasser Gharaibeh, and Trey Batey.

Student members of the team: Audrey Baker, Bobby Braly, Jennifer Bradshaw, Matthew Cox, Jodi Dickerson,Ashley Funderburg, Chandler Gatenbee, Sally Huber, Mohammad Al-Rousan,Delisa Phillips, Sherry Isham and Jennifer Ramage.

Volunteer:Mary Byrne

The Excavation Team:

The 2004 bioarchaeology field school and excavations were once again held at the site of Yacamun located to the southwest of Irbid City, Jordan, just south of the Syrian border along the Amman-Ramtha highway. Field work was conducted between 13 June to 27 July. This year the one Jordanian and 11 American students were joined by 27 BA students from the Archaeology Department of Yarmouk University taking their field school requirement under the instruction of Dr. Nizar Turshan.

Dr. Nizar instructing the undergraduate archaeology class

The Tell and Church:

The BA students excavated seven 10 x 10 meter squares adjacent to the Byzantine church on the tell. The goal was to excavate along both sides of the previously excavated Byzantine church. A paved walkway and rooms had been previously excavated along the south wall and this year more of the walkway and the most eastern room were exposed. The area along the north wall contained a great deal of garbage that seemed to have accumulated during the last use of the church building after it had been abandoned. The most important results of this season were finding more evidence for the presence of Late Bronze and Iron I and II architecture underneath the Byzantine structures and artifacts demonstrating the continued use of the church buildings through Byzantine, Umayyed, Ayyubid, and Mamluk times.


Yarmuk undergrads excavating on the tell



The bioarchaeology field school students excavated 8 tombs and 4 single graves in Necropolises II, III, and IV. Although all of these tombs had been robbed, a minimum of 38 complete and fragmented skeletons, as well as a large number of human teeth, were recovered. In addition, artifacts such as complete glass vessels, coins, and lamps were found in these robbed tombs. Extensive searches for tombs with a metal probe and the excavation of 8 test pits and trenches established that there are no further tombs to be found in Necropolis III and the southern half of Necropolis IV. This leaves only a portion of Necropolis I and only one section of the northern half of Necropolis IV to be explored for tombs.

Entrace to Tomb 25 after excavation

Drawing decorations found on the side of the sarcophagus

Human bone found in Tomb 25

Tomb 180, discovery of unbroken glass

Tomb 180, although robbed produced skeletons and unbroken glass

Tomb 180, glass bowl in place

Tomb 180, unbroken glass unguentarium in situ

Coin from Tomb 180

Glass bowl from Tomb 180

Looking out the door of Tomb 181

Islamic Period lamp from Tomb 185



The team also excavated three additional wine presses to add to the large press excavated and drawn three years ago. One press had only a single pressing room and storage basin carved into the bedrock in Necropolis I. The next wine press had four pressing chambers with associated storage basins. This press seems to have been destroyed by earthquakes. Toward the end of the season a straight cut edge in the bedrock underneath where we have been parking our bus for the past four years was noticed and a decision made to excavate this feature. In the end it turned out to be a seven room winepress with associated storage basins. On the last day of excavation the deepest room was found to contain a portion of its original mosaic floor. This large press shows evidence of use from Roman through Byzantine into Islamic times. These presses along with the large one previously excavated clearly establish commercial wine production at the site.

Wine press found in bus parking lot

Wine press in parking lot after excavation

Mosaic floor of wine press

Church Floor Conservation:

Although we had covered the mosaic floor of the church with plastic and sand after it had been mapped five years ago, it appeared that the floor was still being damaged by plant growth. It was decided to conduct conservation work and all of the soil was again taken off the church floor. The floor was rephotographed for documentation and covered by a layer of clean construction sand purchased especially for this purpose. Then a layer of thick construction grade plastic was laid down and sealed with tape before another layer of clean sand followed by a thick layer of local soil was spread over the entire floor.

Spreading sand over the church floor, and then spreading sand over the plastic covering the church floor

Field Trips:

Field trips were conducted on four of the weekends during the field school. We visited the Islamic Crusader period castle of Ajlun and the Roman period Decapolis city of Jerash on our first trip. A visit to the Dead Sea was not only enjoyable at the Marriott Dead Sea Resort, but a first hand experience of the Dean Sea was educational. We were able to experience the Jordan River and the Baptism site prior to visiting the churches and mosaics of Mt. Nebo and Madaba. A two and one half day stay at Petra provided time to visit and explore this exceptional site.

Field school students study the dead sea

Field School studnets visit Aijlin Castle

Field school students test the Roman theater at Jerash

Students visit the Baptism site, Jordan River


The field school is a joint project of the University of Arkansas and Yarmouk University. Funding and sponsorship are provided by the King Fahd Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, the Anthropology Department, and the Dean of Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Arkansas; and at Yarmouk University the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology and its Anthropology and Archaeology Departments.The excavation was carried out with the ready support of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and we are grateful to its Director General, Dr. Fawwaz Khraysheh. We also thank Mr. Wajeeh Karasneh, head of the Department of Antiquities, Irbid Office, and our representatives Mr. Adnan Naqrash and Mr. Mohammad Al-Bashabsheh who faithfully attended us in the field.



We thank the staff from both universities, our students and our workers whose efforts provided for our success in the field this year.