Supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs    
Khirbet al-Batrawy
Season 2005
General Information

The previously unexcavated site of Khirbet al-Batrawy[1] (Lat. 32°05',218" N, Long. 36°04',237" E) has been chosen as the key site of the Upper Wady Zarqa, since it was deemed yielding a high archaeological potential, also in the future perspective of a site rehabilitation and tourist valorization (it lies within the area of the municipality of Zarqa: from one side it is threatened by urban development, but on the other it is located in a favourable spot, with the nearby abandoned quarry which may be exploited for tourist devices).

Khirbet al-Batrawy was a fortified town, lying on top of a hill, which it occupies entirely, and dominating a large part of the Upper Wadi Zarqa. A series of Bronze Age sites were in fact identified in the valley below it, which was one of the main ancient routes connecting the Jordan Valley to the East and to the North of the Jordanian plateau. This district really offered a favourable geo-economic environment for the development of an early urban society. The presence of a massive fortification system all around the site, and the fact that the whole hill was densely inhabited in the Early Bronze Age, as a careful survey has demonstrated, with almost no successive superimpositions nor excavations, does make Khirbet al-Batrawy one of the more promising sites of the region for the study of pristine Jordanian urbanisation.

The first season of excavations took place from May 21st to June 13th and was aimed at fixing the main topographical and chronological pinpoints of the site, by surveying it fully, and with the opening of two areas of excavations: Area A, on the summit (Acropolis), and Area B at the middle of the northern side (Northern City-Wall), where a shallow depression is visible. A complete plan of the city-walls encircling the site and of the major architectural features appearing on the ground was drawn, also plotting all major emerging structures.

The site measures 2.2 hectares, and has roughly the shape of a triangle, with its base along the western side, where it looks towards the Wadi Zarqa. The north-west corner hosted a rectangular tower, and a wall protruding from the line of the city-walls protected the spur at the only spot with a relatively easy access, presumably in the area of a postern gate. A second tower abutted from the city-walls at the centre of the western side, being built upon a terrace of the bedrock. In the south-western spur, a huge round tower was identified, controlling the Zarqa Valley at a strategic turn. From that point, a large panorama was visible. Similarly, the eastern corner of the hill was occupied by a round tower, which is now concealed by a cairn (Cairn III; two more Cairns [I-II] are located on the Acropolis). Other possible postern gates have been tentatively identified at the mid of the southern side and near the eastern corner of the northern side. The latter has been recorded in plan; the passage has a width of 1.2 m. A rectangular bastion and a protruding wall protected the eastern half of the northern side of the city, not far from the shallow depression, which is deemed to indicate the location of the main gate of the city. Here Area B was located, where an inner passage was preliminary identified, which may be accessible through a bent-axis gate (the city-walls have a varying width of 3-4 m).

Five terraces sloping from west to east, delimitated by sustaining walls, testify to the urban complexity of the city, which was apparently densely inhabited during the Early Bronze Age (pottery materials on the surface have a time range from EB II to EB IV, 3000-2000 BC).

[1] JADIS: "Jreyyeh" 2516.011, p. 2.172.