Supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs    
Khirbet al-Batrawy
Season 2020


Lorenzo Nigro - Sapienza University of Rome

Khirbet al-Batrawy (MEGA Jordan site n. 7411, JADIS n. 2516.011; Lat. 32°05',218" N, long. 36°04',237" E) is a 3.8 ha site, with a roughly triangular shape, with its base along the western side where it looks towards the Wadi az-Zarqa, a permanent water course, 96 Km long, which represents the second tributary of the Jordan River, after the Wadi Yarmouk, and constitutes the natural border of the central Jordan highlands controlled by Amman (Rabbat Ammon in the Iron Age, Philadelphia in the Hellenistic and Roman periods).
The site lies in the north-western periphery of the modern city of Zarqa and a flank of the hill is currently cut through by a huge limestone quarry. The site is heavily threatened due to modern building activities, and because of pits excavated by illegal plunderers, which are visible in several spots over it.
Khirbet al-Batrawy was an Early Bronze city - completely unknown until 2004 - abandoned at the end of the 3rd millennium BC, and never re-occupied, sealed under a more than 1 m thick untouched layer of destruction, with no successive superimpositions, that allows the discovery of hundreds of finds in a very good state of preservation. It, thus, offers a unique opportunity to reconstruct the life and the history of one of the earliest Jordanian cities and to present it to the vast public.
The Early Bronze Age II-III (3000-2300 BC) city, with its impressive fortifications along the northern slope, arose on the top of the rocky hill, dominating a large part of the Upper Wadi az-Zarqa Valley and a ford through the river. The fortified centre was destroyed around 2300 BC, and an EB IVB (2200-2000 BC) was built over the ruins of what had been a flourishing urban centre.

The 16th (2020) season of archaeological excavations and restorations at the Khirbet al-Batrawy, in north-central Jordan, took place from 30 November to 14 December 2020. The Sapienza University of Rome Archaeological Expedition to Palestine & Jordan ( is carried out under the aegis of the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Office VI - Archeology, Embassy of Italy in Amman) and Sapienza University of Rome.
The season of excavations was conducted in a very reduced form due to the Covid-19 emergency. In the 16th (2020) season archaeological activities were focused on restoration: in Area B North, where the Early Bronze II-III (3000-2300 BC) fortifications were completely restored; and in Area B South, where important interventions were carried out for the maintenance and restoration of the "Palace of the Copper Axes", the main administrative and political building of the Early Bronze Age city of Batrawy (fig. 1).

2.Goals of the 16th (2020) season of restorations, analysis and valorization
In the 16th (2020) season of archaeological interventions at Khirbet al-Batrawy, the activities of the Sapienza Expedition were focused on three main goals, including the restorations, the £D analysis of the Palace structures and findings, and site valorization.

2.1.Restorations of the "Palace of the Copper Axes"
The most important structures of the site, so that the EB II-III Broad-Room Temple in Area F, the EB III "Palace of the Copper Axes" in Area B South, as well as the EB II City-Gate in Area B North, are now fully restored (figs. 2-3).
In the 2020 season, restoration works were carried out on the Palace. Works were concentrated in the consolidation of the walls with rough coating and inside the different rooms of the building in order to complete the set up of draining devices through the walls.

2.2.3D scanning and paleobotanic sampling in the "Palace of the Copper Axes"
The 16th (2020) season was devoted to the continuation of the 3D documentation through photogrammetry of the Palace and of all the precious finds found in it, including the Egyptian greeen schist palette which has been restored and reproduced with the use of photogrammetry and 3D printing (fig. 4). This goal was achieved by also providing for the training of local staff, in collaboration with the local Department of Antiquities and Hashemite University of Amman.
Several samples of organic and inorganic material have been also taken in the layers related to the final destruction of the Western Wing of the "Palace of the Copper Axes" in order to carrying out archaeometric analysis (fig. 5).

2.3.Site valorization
The Expedition is strongly committed in the site protection and valorization.
In 2020 season a further series of site protection interventions have been carried out, with the reconstruction of the paths inside the site and the repair of the metal fence encircling the archaeological area. The 16th (2020) season was also characterized by a meeting with the local operators, in order to raise awareness of the archaeological heritage and its protection. A project of training on-the-job was activated for future archaeological guides of the site, in agreement with the site guardian.