Regional interaction in Ammon during the Iron Age IIc: An insight into regional exchange through ceramics from the Amman Citadel and Deir ‘Alla

Regional interaction in Ammon during the Iron Age IIc: An insight into regional exchange through ceramics from the Amman Citadel and Deir ‘Alla
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  RpCIoNaL INTpRaCTIoN IN AuIvIoN DURINc rIrE InoN Acp IIC: AN INsrcHT INTo RrcIoNeI ExcuaNcpTHnoucu Cpnarurcs FRoM rrrp 'AvrvraN CrraoEL AND DptR'ALLA* Niels C. F. Groot Introduction The Iron Age IIc (734-580 a.c.e.) is regarded by scholars as the golden age of the Central Transjordanian kingdom of Ammon. This "golden age" has been deduced from the finds ofdelicately sculpted objects, seals and fine pottery in Iron Age IIc strata and tombs. This unique materialculture complex is closely correlated with the region that is traditionally designated as "Ammon" (Herr 1999,224; London 1999,89-90; Daviau and Dion 2007 ,301; Herr and Najjar 2008, 325). No other region in theSouthern Levant has yielded such a variety and quality of lron Age IIc objects. The development of this speciflc cultural complex is alsoremarkable as the Iron Age IIc of Ammon begins with the transÍbrmationfrom independent state into a Neo-Assyrian vassal kingdom (Dion 2003, s04-7). Despite the nice artefacts much of the society of this kingdom remains unknown. One of the many enigrnatic aspects of this state concerns the interaction within the kingdom. This article attempts to present a limited insight into large- and small-scale interaction between Arnmonite sites. This information was obtained by the study of the ceramic fabrics that were encountered in a limited set of Iron Age IIc sherds from the 'Ammàn Citadel, the location of the former kingdorn's capital. This research included a comparison with fabrics that have been discerned in * This paper is dedicated to Margreet Steiner, with whom I have had manyinteresting and fruitful discussions on the subject oflron Age Ilc in Transjordan. I aur grateful for her advice and support throughout and after my Ph.D. research.  Gnoor Regional Interaction in Ammon the study of Iron Age IIc pottery from Tell Deir 'Alla in the Jordan Valley (Groot 201 1). Through this latter step an understanding could begained of regional exchange of ceramics during and possibly even beyondthe Iron Age IIc. oÍ Sidoa, ' oÍMegidda 'AMMON''Judah' Figure l. Map of the situation and supposed extent of Iron Age Amrnon and the sites mentioned in the text. Inset is a map of the Jordan Valley with the sites mentioned in the text 63  64 Exploring the Narrative The paper's primary objective is to present the results of the fabric study of ceramics of the 'Amman Citadel and the subsequent comparison with Tell Deir 'Alla. The second objective of this article is briefly todiscuss the possible exchange mechanisms behind the observed pattern and the duration of the exchange. The final objective of this paper is toraise the issue of the assumed end of occupation of the 'Ammàn Citadel and the demise of Ammon after the onset of the Neo-Babylonian era. This event is often distilled Íiom the absence of sources, although thedata from this research is indicative for a different scenario. Geographical and Archaeological Context The kingdom of Ammon was mainly situated in the highlands around the current Jordanian capital city of 'Ammàn, on the plateau of Central Transjordan. Its northern border appears to have been situated at or nearthe Wadi ez-Zerqa', the biblical river Jabbok. The southern border was possibly located south of the site of Tell Hesban (see Fig. 1; Herr 1999, 220-23). Similar to the current situation, this region was dominated by the capital and central site of 'Ammàn, the first main site of this research. Although the extent of the settlement remains unknown, the core of thisimposing settlement was the 'Ammàn Citadel. This hill towers above theheadwaters of the Wadr ez-Zerqa. Unfortunately, the scattered excava- tion projects on this location have not provided a good insight into the Iron Age II occupation on this hill. What has become clear is that the sitewas well fortified during the Iron Age IIc and, judging from the limitedremains that have been exposed, housed several large, impressive buildings (Herr 1999 ,222). Several other sizeable Iron Age IIc settlements, be it towns or even cities, like Jawa, Sahab and Jalul, were located in the region around the 'Ammàn Citadel. Dotted between these sites were several smaller vil- lages, hamlets, fortresses, administrative centres and fortifled farmsteads (Herr and Najjar 2008, 323-25).Besides the plateau, also the Southern and Central Jordan Valley appear to have been an integral part of the kingdom as the materialculture and writing suggest (Van der Kooij and Ibrahim 1989,69; Groot 2011, 113-14). The most densely occupied area, the Central Jordan Valley, harboured several villages. These settlements were predomi- nantly located in the plain between the Wadr ez-Zerqa and the WadiKunfrijeh. One of these sites is Tell Deir'Alla, the other main site in thispaper. It contains, among others, the remains of a sequence of villages or  Gnoor Regional Interaction in Ammon 65 hamlets from the Iron Age II-III (+ 1000-350 B.C.E.), as excavationshave shown (see van der Kooij and Ibrahim 1989; Van der Kooij 2001). Iron Age IIc phases VII, VI and V/VI on the eastern summit of the sitebelong to this sequence. The first phase, VII, was a densely built village, which was constructed after almost a century of abandonment. Phase VII was probably destroyed and abandoned after an earthquake in the early seventh century B.C.E. The succeeding phase VI was a village, which can be dated to the late seventh-very early sixth century B.C.E. After destruc- tion by fire and a period of abandonment, the subsequent phase, V/VI, probably represents a hamlet. The remains of this phase predominantly consist of a large number of pits and a thick accumulation of courtyard layers. Phase V/Vl is roughly dated to the sixth century B.C.E. (Van der Kooij 200 l, 296, 297, 301). MctÍerial and Methods Ceramics from the 'AmmAn Ciradel ln 1975 the Director-General of Antiquities, Ya'qub 'Uways, invited Mrs. C.-M. Bennett, atthat time the director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, to conduct a number of small-scale rescue excavations on behalf of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. These excavations took place on the upper part of the 'Ammàn Citadel as part of a larger project, which was aimed at studying the archaeological remains underlying the location of an anticipated, although never real- ized, new archaeological museum (Northedge 1992,l5-16). A set of sherds from the exposed periods was donated by C.-M. Bennett to the Institute of Pottery Technology of Leiden University for technological study and also to serve as display material for the exhibi- tion "Pottery and Potters-Past and Present 7000 Years of Ceramic Art in Jordan" at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels (1984-85) and at the museum of Tiibingen University (1986) (see Homès-Fredericq and Franken 1986). This donation included a set of 35 lron Ilc-Persian period sherds. Much later these latter pottery fragments were selected for a small fabric study. This research was conducted in order to compare the results with those from a similar, but much largerstudy, of Iron Age Ilc-Persian period pottery from Tell Deir 'Alla, toestablish whether there was exchange of ceramic products between the Central Jordan Valley and the plateau. As mentioned the set of 'Ammàn Citadel sherds can broadly be dated to the Iron Ilc-Persian period. Further dating is difficult because of the non-distinct nature of the vessels to which they srcinally belonged.  66 Exploring the Narrcttive However, it is often assumed that occupation ceased on the .Ammàn citadel after the Iron Age lIc (zayadine, Humbert and Najjar 19g9, 30g- 9; Greene and Amr 1992, r26;Hiibner rgg2,25). Therefó the ceramics should in theory predate the persian period. The sherds from the 'Ammàn citadel could be subdivided in four general types, which are listed below. As the sherds are quite fragmen-tary, corresponding larger vessel (fragment)s from Tell Deir ,Alla have been used to illustrate the corresponding vessel types (Fig. 2). rnaddition, as the absolute dating of the Iron Age IIc stratà of tÀe .Ammàn citadel is still largely undetermined, the information from Tell Deir ,Alla is used roughly to date the vessel types. l. The collection is dominated by 1g rims sherds of holemouth bowls with a long, thickened, inward folded rim (see Fig.2a). The holemouth bowl is predominantly encountered in central Transjordan. At Tell Deir 'Alla this vessel type was introduced in the ninth century B.c.E. as is evident from the assemblage DA-phase M/IX (Vilders t992,197 Fig.5.26).t The productión of this closed bowl type continued at least into the fourth centuryB.c.E. as is clear from the repeÍoire of Deir 'Alla phase IIi (Groot 2011, 145). 2. The holemouth jar is another dominant shape within this reper- toire (11 rim sherds; see Fig. 2b). This vessel shape was present at Tell Deir'Alla fromphase vI onwards. It has also been found on other sites in central Transjordan and palestine (Groot 2011, 128). 3. The pithos is a heavy storage jar with ridges near the rirn (5 rim sherds; see Fig. 2c). AtTell Deir 'Alla this vessel type has been found in phases VI-IV (late seventh to late fifth century e.c.r.). It is a characteristic shape in Late Iron Age IIc central rrans- jordan (Groot 2011, 167). 4. A bowl with thickened inverted rirns with several grooves on the exterior near the rim (r sherd; see Fig. 2d). This bowl type belongs to a dominant class of closed Bowl types within the phase vII Tell Deir 'Alla assemblage (vII.cB.l-3) (Groor 20rr, 120). Dorneman has also encountered several examples of this type in his study of the Iron Age ceramics from thè .AmmànCitadel (Domeman 1983, Figs. 55, 539; 59,719-21).It appears to be limited to the central Transjordanian early Iron Àge IIc sites (Groot 2011, 120). l. vilders (1992) designated it as a horemouth jar, however due to its diameter it has to be designated as a closecl bowl.
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