Supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs    
Khirbet al-Batrawy
Season 2016
Preliminary Report on the 12th Season of Archaeological Investigations and Restorations at Khirbet al-Batrawy by Rome "La Sapienza" University


Project duration: 5 years
Sponsor: Rome «La Sapienza» University - Dept. of Oriental Studies - P.le A. Moro, 5 -I- 00185 Rome (also supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research) Director: Prof. Lorenzo Nigro (Field Co-Director 2016: Dr. Elisabetta Gallo) DoA representative: Mr. Romel Gharib

Abstract The twelfth season (2016) of archaeological excavations and restorations at Khirbet al-Batrawy by Rome «La Sapienza» University was focused on the exploration of the huge Northern Bastion T.830, dominating the northern fortifications of the site. This huge monument, protruding off of the Main Inner Wall, was preserved with a height of 1.5-2.5 m for a length of 21 m. Excavations were concentrated inside it, and along its northern flanks, where the Outer Wall and the Exterior Wall were uncovered further westwards, also digging the narrow spaces in between these huge structures, filled up by destruction layers alternate to floors and repairs. Such a stratigraphic investigations was aimed at clarifying the building technique, constructional sequence, and defensive purpose of each wall composing the three defensive lines which assured Batrawy an almost impenetrable defense. Batrawy multiple city-walls represent a unique summary of the salient moments in the city history, from its foundation at the eve of the 4th millennium BC, to its first destruction due to a tremendous earthquake towards 2700 BC, the following reconstruction of EB IIIA, then another destruction and finale fire with destroyed the city around 2300 BC. Afterwards, during the last century of the 3rd millennium BC, a small rural village occupied the ruins of what had been a flourishing city. A cycle of destructions and reconstructions, illustrating the main historical-archaeological periods of the site well-framed into the history of the early urbanization of Southern Levant (Nigro2013a). A second major goal pursued in the 12th season (2016) was a systematic study of the site hydraulic resources, including paths connecting Batrawy with the underlying ford across the Zarqa river, and underground water reservoirs inside the inhabited hill. Five major occupational periods have been distinguished on basis of comprehensive studies of stratigraphy, architecture, finds, and especially pottery seriation, as well as thanks to radiocarbon and other physicochemical analyses: Period Batrawy I (Early Bronze I, 3300-3000 BC); Period Batrawy II (Early Bronze II, 3000-2700 BC); Period Batrawy IIIA (Early Bronze IIIA, 2700-2500 BC); Period Batrawy IIIB (2500-2300 BC); and Period Batrawy IV (Early Bronze IVA-B, 2200- 2000 BC). A gap of about a century (2300-2200 BC) apparently followed the final destruction of the EB II-III city. This chronological timeline, firmly based upon stratigraphy, and the absence of successive archaeological or modern superimpositions, makes Batrawy a reference site for the Early Bronze Age in the whole Levant.

1. Introduction: the Twelfth Season (2016) at Khirbet al-Batrawy

Archaeological investigations and restorations undertaken by Rome «La Sapienza» University Expedition to Jordan continued in 2016 at the site of Khirbet al-Batrawy (fig. 1; Lat. 32°05',218" N,Long.36°04',237"E), the Early Bronze Age II-III (3000-2300 BC) major fortified centre, and EB IV (2200-2000 BC) village, arisen upon a rocky hill dominating the ford through Wadi az-Zarqa. Archaeological investigations and restoration works were carried out under the aegis of the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between October 3rd and 21st 2016. Archaeological exploration was concentrated on the Northern Bastion T.830, a major defensive tower, protruding off of the line of the Main Inner Wall, in its westernmost stretch on the northern slope of the site, as well as on the other connected defensive structures (the Outer Wall and the Exterior Wall) protecting this strategic point of the city perimeter (Area B North, § 3.1-3). as well as on the re-appraisal of Area A, on the top of the acropolis, i.e. the khirbat summit, where EB II-III remains, badly damaged by later EB IV dwelling structures, which had overlaid them, were newly carefully detached and reinterpreted as the rest of the foundation of a huge building (Area A West, ROSAPAT 06, 2008, 18-21). The presence of two cairns on the top of the site hampered, in facts, a full understanding of these structures. Finally, in Area C (§ 3.4), on the western plateau north of the Acropolis, the water reservoir identified in 2015 was surveyed in order to investigate the ancient functioning of this vital device for the city.

1.1. Goals of the twelfth season (2016) at Khirbet al-Batrawy
The main goal of the twelfth season (2016) was threefold in Areas B North, A West and C. From the one hand, in Area B North, on the northern side of the city fortifications, the first main goal was to excavate the interior of the huge Northern Bastion T.830, reaching at least on its eastern side the latest floor, and to uncover its western half, as well as the two main connected defensive lines of the Outer Wall and the Exterior Wall (figs. 2-3). In the meantime, the exploration of the two corridors between the Northern Bastion and the Outer Wall at elevation 656.1 m asl, and between the Outer Wall and the Exterior Wall at elevation 654.5 (east) m asl - 655.06 (west) m asl (fig. 4), was another major objective of the 2016 season. The second main goal of this season was aimed at detaching the plan of an originally huge building exposed in Area A West, possibly a temple standing on top of the Acropolis. Finally, the third goal, was to start a detailed survey of the water reservoir identified in season 2015, and of its connections with the surrounding installations. As in the previous years, moreover, the season was devoted to the continuation of restoration works both on the aligned city-walls (Main Inner Wall, Outer Wall, Exterior Wall), and on the Northern Bastion (northern wall W.837).

2. Techniques and methodologies
Following the operational and technical standard already established in previous seasons (Nigro ed. 2012; Nigro 2010c; 2010 d; 2011; 2012a; 2012c; 2013a; 2013b; 2013c; 2014a; 2016a; 2016b), the excavation inside the Northern Bastion of the northern fortification was continued by carefully digging from the east to the west with a strictly stratigraphic method from top to down (fig. 5). Also this year an immense amount of fallen down stones was removed from the site, after careful examination and documentation, excluding stones selected for being re-used in restoration works. No dump was left upon the site, as to allow an easier reading of archaeological features, in view of a future tourist valorization of Batrawy. Samples of soil and organic remains were processed on the spot by means of photo-sensors, as well as carbonized seeds and charcoals for Carbon 14 determination. Stratigraphic sections, architectural sections and overlays were documented on the spot and then by CAD (fig. 6). Excavated features underwent optical 3D scanning, in order to obtain a model of the multiple lines fortification on the northern slope of the khirbat. Pottery is carefully examined by reading it and classifying fabrics and surface treatments. A distinguished series of analyses carried out in previous seasons(Nigro et al. 2013; 2016) allow to better distinguish wares, productions and functions of vessels. Moreover, also pottery types were recorded by means of 3D optical devices.

3. Results of the Twelfth Season (2016)
The twelfth seasons (2016) was concentrated on the excavation inside the Northern Bastion T.830, an impressive rectangular elongated tower, and in the uncovering and study of further stretches of the connected series of massive roughly parallel walls, forming the articulated and almost impenetrable defense system of Batrawy (Outer Wall, Scarp Wall, Transversal Wall, Exterior Wall: Nigro ed. 2012, 13-144). The stratigraphy and constructional sequence, as well as the architectural structure of such massive works, as reconstructed in previous seasons, proved to be consistent. However, the layout of the fortification line changed in its westernmost prosecution, due to the presence of the massive Northern Bastion T.830, jutting off the Main Inner Wall.

3.1. The excavation of Northern Bastion T.830
The Northern Bastion T.830 proved to be a major defensive work, added to the Main Inner Wall due to a huge breach in this structure, possibly caused by a inner subsiding of the construction or by a collapse due to an earthquake occurred during the Early Bronze II. This gave the hint at reinforcing the sensible spot of the fortifications by letting a massive tower to abut from the line of the MIW. The Northern Bastion was thus erected setting its foundations into the bedrock and using big roughly cut limestone boulders of around 1.05 m length in the lowest courses (fig. 7). The best preserved parts of Bastion walls were 2.5 m high (the MIW reaches 3.8 m). The eastern wall of the T.830, Wall W.835, jutted off of the MIW of 5.5 m (10 cubits of 0.525 m), and was 1.65 m (= 3 cubits) wide. The northern front wall, W.837, reached the length of 21 m, that is 40 cubits of 0.525 m, so that the ratio of the rectangular plan of the tower was 1:4. It was 4 cubits wide, that is 2.1 m. The original walls (W.835 and W.837) of the Bastion embodied big boulders (up to 1.05 m/2 cubits long) only in the two lower courses, while in the upper ones, only the outer curtain incorporated regular large size stone blocks, fixed by means of limestone chops and small stones tied up with a relatively weak mud mortar. The inner filling of these walls was made of medium sized stones laid on superimposed layers of a regular thickness.

3.2. Gate L.860
The dig exposed the northern outer face of the Main Inner Wall (W.163) for a 8 m-long stretch from the joint with Bastion wall W.835 to the west. In this trait, at 3 m from the corner, a beautifully built doorjamb was recognizable, hinting at the presence of a blocked gateway. The passage turned out to be 3 m-wide, as the facing jamb to the west was also exposed. It was blocked by a solid wall (W.867), superimposed by a later EB IV pit (P.859). The Gate so far identified was called L.860 (figs. 8-9). It was possibly opened in the MIW with the city-walls complete reconstructions which occurred at the beginning of the Early Bronze IIIA (around 2700 BC).

3.3. External fortifications on the northern slope of the khirbat
Along with the restoration of the upper section of wall W.837 (i.e. the northern wall of Bastion T.830), the corridor (L.838) between such a structure and the underlying Outer Wall W.155 were excavated (fig. 10), for a length of about 10 m also unearthing the top of the latter, which for a stretch of 6 m consisted of a double row curtain wall, called W.845 (the westernmost stretch of such a wall included two reddish-brown mudbricks, one of which was preserved for its all length of 0.52 m). The latest EB IIIB floor was in good state of preservation and it was covered by destruction layer F.834, covered by collapse layer F.852. The outer northern battering face of the Outer Wall was further excavated towards the west by digging in the lower terrace between the latter and the Exterior Wall. This had lost its inner southern face, pillaged by the builders of the later EB IV Embankment which concealed all of these defensive lines merging them into a unique mantle wall surfaced by stones (W.811). The outer face of the Exterior Wall, which had a varying width and progressively turned southwards as it advanced to the west, was partly removed by the EB IV Embankment and partly it was detected just underneath it (figs. 11-13). A further buttress, W.861, was added to the Exterior Wall and its northern face was traces also progressively turning southwards to the west. This appears as the lowest and northernmost defensive line so far identified on the slope of the khirbat. The foot of the northernmost fortification approximately lies at 653.25 m asl, while the top of the Main Inner Wall is at elevation 658.75 m asl. The whole system thus bridged a height of 5.5 m, across an overall width of the aligned and terraced walls of about 16 m.

3.4 Area C East - The Water Reservoir B.880
The twelfth season (2016) resumed the investigation of Water Reservoir B.880, as well as of hydraulic systems and installations identified on the site. The former huge cave, located in the northwestern sector of the Acropolis (Area C East), had a width of around 12 m and a depth of 4 (figs. 14- 15). It is a major natural cavity in the limestone bedrock with at least two entrance wells, one to the east (the lowest one), and one to the south (the upper one). It was transformed into a cistern by regularizing its inner walls and through drains possibly connected with the roof of the major building (a tower or a fortress in Area A West) occupying the summit of the Acropolis. It is still not possible to reach the bottom of the cave. It seems possible that such a device was intended to supply water only to a small area of the city, such as the north-western defensive system and the nearby palace. The rock roofing of the reservoir was cut through by a modern pit, which shows its thickness of around 1 m.

4. Site valorization
The Expedition is strongly committed in the site protection and valorization. All of the architectural structures uncovered in the previous seasons have undergone a careful restoration (Nigro 2013c), so that the EB II-III Broad-Room Temple in Area F (Nigro - Sala 2010, 238; Nigro 2013b, 192-195), the EB III "Palace of the Copper Axes" in Area B South, as well as the EB II City-Gate in Area B North (Nigro 2016b; 2012c; 2010b), are now fully restored (figs. 16-17). In this campaign (2016), a careful restoration focused on the Northern Bastion, which after the 2015 excavation was about to collapse. The northern wall was reinforced with traditional antique-like mortar, with a sacrifice layer on top. This preserved its original structure but strengthen its resistance to rainwater. Two explanatory panels were set in the main areas giving information on the city layout and its main monuments. A tourist path approaching the site was prepared.

5. Protection of the site
Further protection of the site, both from illegal looters and modern urban development of the surrounding city of Zarqa, was pursued thanks to the strong cooperation with the local office of the Department of Antiquities and the local inspector Mr. Romel Gharib. With the establishment of an official guardian the site is protected by looters, however, building activities are developing very fast all around it and the facing hill of Beitrawy has been transformed into a new quarter of Zarqa Jedida (fig. 18). A line has been marked in correspondence of a step in the bedrock so to mark the unsurmountable limit. However, there is the problem of guaranteeing the site a relatively easy access from the north-east, the only side where a group of tourist can climb it. Two new houses were built near the site in 2015-2016.

6. Recommendations
The Expedition suggestion is to involve local authorities into the process for the site valorization and tourist exploitation. Batrawy is located not far from Route 36 and its junction with the new autoroute running into Wadi az-Zarqa. In the future, it may represent an easy stop for coaches carrying tourist group to Jerash (Nigro 2013a, 503). Moreover, the extraordinary finds from the "Palace of the Copper Axes" (Nigro 2010a; 2010b; 2012b; 2014c, 263-267; 2015), presently kept into the local DoA storeroom of Qasr Shebib, might be the nucleus of a local archaeological museum. Most noticeable finds (such as the four strings necklace [Nigro 2012b, 229-232; fig. 20], a fifth copper axe [Nigro - Sala 2012, 51], several beautiful vessels [Nigro 2010a; 2010b, 563-567), furthermore, may be set on display both in the new National Archaeological Museum and in the Jordan Museum in Amman (figs. 19-20).

7. Conclusions
The twelfth season (2016) at Khirbet al-Batrawy contributed to a deeper and more detailed knowledge of this ancient city of Jordan, of its monumental defensive system, its inner layout, as well as of its history, economy and social organization. A variety of complex data was gathered and processed in order to implement the historical picture so far reconstructed with a firmly based interpretation (fig. 21). During excavation and restoration activities, monuments and materials were thoroughly documented (§ 9). Archaeological material retrieved in the campaign will be processed with classification and insertion of data in interactive databases, which collect all information on finds (from the typological ones to the spatial and stratigraphical ones); drawings, graphic and photographic documentation; restorations and systematic gathering of samples for analyses; reconstruction of the original archaeological contexts, also accomplished throughout chemical-physical analyses, in order to reconstruct the material conditions of life of the urban phase under examination, and to provide numerous indications on the economic conditions, the system of production, the strategies of survival and the social organization of the community (Nigro 2011, 64; 2014c, 262). The final aim of this work is the prompt publication of all data in preliminary reports (=Rome «La Sapienza» Studies on the Archaeology of Palestine & Transjordan 3, 6, 8), as already accomplished for previous seasons, as well as by means of fast publications of the discoveries and the web-site of the Expedition ( The results of field activities and tourist valorisation of Rome "La Sapienza" Expedition to Khirbet al-Batrawy were divulgated in year 2015 with the publication of the volume ROSAPAT 10, devoted to Prof. Moawwiyah Ibrahim Festschrift, as well as with a series of articles in scientific journal (such as ADAJ, AJA, Scienze dell'Antichità, Syria, Vicino Oriente), and posters and papers presented to International Congresses. A wider presentation to the vast public, also finalized to the tourist exploitation, is available in the internet site of the Expedition (home page of the project:

8. References (2010-2016)
NIGRO 2016a = L. Nigro, Khirbat al-Batrawy. American Journal of Arcaheology 120:4 (2016): 645-646.

NIGRO 2016b = L. Nigro Khirbat al-Batrawi 2010-2013: The City Defenses and the Palace of Copper Axes. Studies on the History and Archaeology of Jordan XII: Transparent Borders (Department of Antiquities of Jordan), Amman 2016: 135-154.

NIGRO et al. 2016 = L. Nigro, The ceramic of the "Palace of the Copper Axes (Khirbet al-Batrawy, Jordan): A palatial special production. Ceramics International 42 (2016): 5952-5962; co-authored with L. Medeghini, L. Fabrizi, C. De Vito, S. Mignardi, E. Gallo, C. Fiaccavento.

NIGRO 2015 = L. Nigro, The Copper Axes Hoard in the Early Bronze IIIb Palace of Batrawy, Jordan, in K. ROSIŃSKA-BALIK, A. OCHAŁ-CZARNOWICZ, M. CZARNOWICZ, J. D?BOWSKA-LUDWIN (eds.), Copper and Trade in the South-Eastern Mediterranean: Trade routes of the Near East in Antiquity (BAR IS2753), Oxford 2015: 77-83.

NIGRO 2014a = L. Nigro, Khirbat al-Batrawy, in G.J. CORBETT, D.R. KELLER, B.A. PORTER, CH.A. TUTTLE (eds.), Archaeology in Jordan, 2012 and 2013 Seasons, in American Journal of Archaeology 118 (2014): 644-645.

NIGRO 2014b = L. Nigro, The Copper Routes and the Egyptian Connection in 3rd millennium BC Jordan seen from the caravan city of Khirbet al-Batrawy. Vicino Oriente XVIII (2014): 39-64.

NIGRO 2014c = L. Nigro, The King's Cup and the Bear Skin. Royal Ostentation in the Early Bronze III "Palace of the Copper Axes" at Khirbet al-Batrawy, in Z. KAFAFI - M. MARAQTEN (eds.), A Pioneer of Arabia. Studies in the Archaeology and Epigraphy of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula in Honor of Moawiyah Ibrahim (ROSAPAT 10), Rome 2014: 261-270.

NIGRO 2013a = L. Nigro, Urban Origins in the Upper Wādīaz-Zarqā', Jordan: The City of Khirbat al-Batrāwī in the third Millennium BC, in F. AL-HMOUD (ed.), Studies on the History and Archaeology of Jordan XI (Department of Antiquities, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), Amman 2013: 486-506.

NIGRO 2013b = L. Nigro, Khirbet al-Batrawy. An Early Bronze Age city at the fringes of the desert. Syria 90 (2013): 189-209.

NIGRO 2013c = L. Nigro, The City of the Copper Axes: Archaeological Research, Restoration and Training in the Early Bronze Age site of Khirbet al-Batrawy, Jordan, in B. CASSANI (ed.), Sapienza in the Mediterranean Region. Agreement on Cultural and Scientific Cooperation: Programs and Projects, Rome 2013: 113-115.

NIGRO - SALA 2013 = L. Nigro, M. Sala, Preliminary Report of the Eighth Season (2012) of Excavations by the University of Rome "La Sapienza" at Khirbat al-Batrawi (Upper Wadiaz-Zarqa)". in HAWLIYYAT DA'IRAT AL-ATAR AL-'AMMAT 57 (2013): 217-228.

NIGRO et al. 2013 = L. Nigro, The key role of micro-Raman spectroscopy in the study of ancient pottery: the case of pre-classical Jordanian ceramics from the archaeological site of Khirbet al-Batrawy. European Journal of Mineralogy 25 (2013): 881-893; co-authored with L. Medeghini, S. Mignardi, C. De Vito, D. Bersani, P.P. Lottici, M. Turetta, J. Costantini, E. Bacchini, M. Sala,

NIGRO 2012a = L. Nigro, Khirbet al-Batrawy. American Journal of Archaeology 116/4 (2012): 705-706.

NIGRO 2012b = L. Nigro, An EB IIIB (2500-2300 BC) gemstones necklace from the Palace of the Copper Axes at Khirbet al-Batrawy, Jordan. Vicino Oriente XVI (2012): 227-243.

NIGRO 2012c = L. Nigro, Khirbet al-Batrawy: Rise, Flourish and Collapse of an Early Bronze Age City in Jordan, in R. MATTHEWS - J. CURTIS (eds.), Proceedings of the 7th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. 12 April - 16 April 2010, the British Museum and UCL, London, Wiesbaden 2012, Volume 1: 609-628.

NIGRO ed. 2012= L. Nigro (ed.), Khirbet al-Batrawy III. The EB II-III triple fortification line and the EB IIIB quarter inside the city-wall. Preliminary report of the fourth (2008) and fifth (2009) seasons of excavations (Rome «La Sapienza» Studies on the Archaeology of Palestine & Transjordan, 8), Rome 2012.

NIGRO - SALA 2012 = L. Nigro, M. Sala, Preliminary Report on the Seventh (2011) Season of Excavation by "La Sapienza" University of Rome at Khirbat al-Batrāwī (Upper Wādīaz-Zarqā'). ADAJ 56 (2012): 45-54.

NIGRO 2011 = L. Nigro, Dominating the River: Khirbet al-Batrawy, an EB II-III City in North-Central Jordan. Syria 88 (2011): 59-74.

NIGRO - SALA 2011 = L. Nigro, M. Sala, Preliminary Report on the Sixth (2010) Season of Excavation by "La Sapienza" University of Rome at Khirbat al-Batrāwī (Upper Wādīaz-Zarqā'). ADAJ 55 (2011): 85-100.

NIGRO 2010a = L. Nigro, In the Palace of the Copper Axes/Nel Palazzo delle Asce di Rame. Khirbat al- Batrāwī: the discovery of a forgotten city of the III millennium BC in Jordan/Khirbat al-Batrāwī: la scoperta di una città dimenticata del III millennio a.C. in Giordania (Rome «La Sapienza» Studies on the Archaeology of Palestine & Transjordan, Colour Monographs I), Rome 2010.

NIGRO 2010b = L. Nigro, Quattro asce di rame dal Palazzo B di Khirbet al-Batrawy (Bronzo Antico IIIB, 2500-2300 a.C.). Scienze dell'Antichità 16 (2010): 561-572.

NIGRO 2010c = L. Nigro, Khirbet al-Batrawy: a third millennium city in Jordan. American Journal of Archaeology 114 (2010): 514-516.

NIGRO 2010d = L. Nigro, Between the Desert and the Jordan: Early Urbanization in the Upper Wadiaz- Zarqa, the EB II-III fortified town of Khirbet al-Batrawy, in P. MATTHAIE, F. PINNOCK, L. NIGRO, N. MARCHETTI (eds.), 6 ICAANE. Proceedings of the 6th International Congress of the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. 5 May - 10 May 2008, "Sapienza", Università di Roma, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2010, Volume 2: 431-458.

NIGRO- SALA 2010 = L. Nigro, M. Sala, "Preliminary Report on the Fifth Season (2009) of Excavations at Khirbat al-Batrāwī (Upper Wādīaz-Zarqā'), by the University of Rome "La Sapienza". ADAJ 54 (2010): 237-253.