Supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs    
Khirbet al-Batrawy
Season 2021
PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE 17th SEASON (2021) OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AND RESTORATIONS AT KHIRBET AL-BATRAWY BY ROME «LA SAPIENZA» UNIVERSITY

«URBAN ORIGINS IN THE WADI AZ-ZARQA: THE CASE OF KHIRBAT AL-BATRĀWĪ»


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 2021: Dr. Elisabetta Gallo)
DoA representative: Mr. Akram Otoom

Abstract
The seventeenth season (2021) of archaeological excavations and restorations at Khirbet al-Batrawy was devoted to the continuation of the exploration of the Early Bronze Age III monumental buildings discovered on the northern side of the khirbat (fig. 1).
Along the northern fortifications (Area B North), a special focus was devoted to the investigation of the Main Inner City-Wall (MIW) and the Outer Wall (W.155) at their easternmost stretch. Inside the Main Inner Wall, excavations continued in the area of the Early Bronze Age III "Palace of the Copper Axes" (Area B South), expanding the explored area of this building to the south-east (fig. 2) in order to investigate the southern portion of Courtyard L.936 and blind Room L.976 partially exposed in 2019 season. Before reaching the room stratum, another portion of the multi-layered Early Bronze Age IVB village has been also excavated.
In Area B North, a further stretch of 5 m of the MIW and the parallel Outer Wall were brought to light, with a thickness north-south of about 12 m. These structures were uncovered after the removal of the huge collapse layer related to the final destruction of the EB III city (F.1552).
Batrawy multiple city-walls represents a unique summary of 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 final fire which 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. The site periodization can thus be summarized as follows: 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. Finally, a very limited occupation is represented by a tower in use in the Late Iron Age (586-333 BC). 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 seventeenth season (2021) at Khirbet al-Batrawy
Archaeological investigations and restorations undertaken by Rome «La Sapienza» University Expedition to Jordan continued in September-October 2021 on the site of Khirbet al-Batrawy (Lat. 32°05',218" N, long. 36°04',237" E), the Early Bronze Age II-III (3000-2300 BC) major fortified centre, and Early Bronze Age IVB (2200-2000BC) village, arisen upon a rocky hill dominating the ford through the 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 September 29th and October 12th 2021.
Archaeological investigation was focused on the continuation of the excavation on the northern slope of the site in Areas B North (at its easternmost limit) and B South (at the south-eastern edge of the area).
In the upper layers of Area B South, Early Bronze Age IVB remains were excavated mainly consisting of dwellings and installations (§ 3.1.). In the same area, the excavation was also focused on the SE corner of Court L.1046, where a semi-circular wall (W.969) delimiting a blind room (L.976) was already excavated in 2019 season, and on the southern part of Courtyard L.936 (§ 3.2.). In Area B North, the northern face of the Main Inner Wall was uncovered for a further stretch of 5 m towards the east, together with the parallel structure of the Outer Wall (§ 3.3.).

2. Techniques and methodologies
Following the operational and technical standard already established in previous seasons (Nigro ed. 2012; Nigro 2010a; 2010b; 2012a; 2012b; 2012c; 2013a; 2013b; 2013c; 2014a; 2016a; 2016b), the excavation inside the MIW was continued by carefully digging it from the west to the east with a strictly stratigraphic method from top to down. Sections in Area B South were trimmed and regularized in order to document them with the ortho-photo technique, and an overall survey of the area was also obtained through photogrammetry. A huge 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 collected and processed at the House of the Expedition in order to get chemico-physical information. Carbonized seeds and charcoals were taken for Carbon 14 determination. Stratigraphic sections, architectural sections and overlays were drawn on the spot and then by CAD. Excavated features underwent optical scanning, in order to obtain a 3D model of the multiple lines of 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; 2016b) allow to better distinguish wares, productions and functions of vessels. Moreover, also pottery types were recorded by means of 3D optical devices. Sampling was extended to new finds also from EB IV strata. The whole excavation area has been carefully photographed in order to obtain a complete ortophoto of the EB III structures (fig. 4).

3. Results of the seventeenth season (2021)
The seventeenth season (2021) was focused on the excavation inside the Main Inner Wall in the south-eastern corner of the Eastern Pavilion (Area B South-East, square BpII9 and baulks Bp/BqII9+BpII9/10), and along the Main Inner Wall at its easternmost edge (Area B North, square CaII7 + baulk CaII6/7).
3.1. Area B South-East: the Early Bronze Age IVB village
Excavations inside the Main Inner Wall were resumed in the seventeenth season (2021) in the south-eastern corner of the Eastern Pavilion, where two major occupational phases of EB IVB structures were explored (Phase 2, Activities 2a-g: Nigro ed. 2012, 146, tab. 3.1). In the uppermost stages (Activities 2a-d), an extension of dwelling L.1234 excavated in 2012 season was brought to light. It belongs to a main domestic unit, named L.354, which was excavated since the 2006 season (Nigro ed. 2008, pp. 133, 170-173, figs. 4.76, 4.78). The southernmost prosecution of Room L.1234 was discovered, with walls W.1233 and W.975, both north-south oriented, delimitating two spaces (L.1234 to the west and L.970 to the east) closed to the south by wall W.977, east-west oriented (fig. 5) . These structures were built on the latest EB IVB levelling layer (F.981, Activity 2d), which covered another layer (F.982, Activity 2g) associated to the earliest levelling operation carried out at the beginning of the EB IVB occupation to regularize the ruins of the EB III palace (fig. 6) . The same layer was identified in the 2019 season (F.974), in the northern half of square BpII9, where it lay under the structures of the earliest EB IVB constructional stage (Activity e-f).

3.2. Area B South-East: the "Palace of the Copper Axes", Room L.976 and Courtyard L.936.
Excavation in squares BpII9+Bp/BqII9+BpII9/10 brought to light Room L.976 and the southern part of Courtyard L.936, identifying the southern wall (W.989) of the Eastern Pavilion, which runs west-east. The extension of the excavation area allowed to clarify the plan of the Palace towards east, with Wall W.1187 separating the Eastern Pavilion (specifically the inner court L.1046) and Courtyard L.936. The two spaces were linked by a door (L.992), found blocked, which was opened through Wall W.1187 just in front of door L.1144, the latter connecting the Eastern and the Western Pavilions. Excavations in 2021 season allowed to complete the investigation of a blind room (L.976) located at the south-eastern corner of Court L.1046 (fig. 6). The room is delimited by a semicircular wall (W.969) to the north, two walls north-south oriented (W.973 to the west, and W.983 to the east) directly leaning on the inner face of Wall W.989 (figs. 7-8). Room L.976 possibly hosted a staircase . Immediately to the east, in the south-western corner of Courtyard L.936, two floors were distinguished. The uppermost floor is named L.980, with a related preparation (F.987) made of pebbles and smashed bricks . A squared block (B.985), measuring 039 x 0.41 m, was found 1.40 m north of Wall W.989, and interpreted as a pillar base positioned in the southernmost part of the court in the latest phase of use of the building. After the excavation of a 25 cm thick layer of destruction (F.988) , the lower floor was reached (L.990), composed by a thick whitish plaster arranged on the bedrock to level the difference in elevations. The upper floor (L980) lies at 657.49 m asl, the lower floor (L.990) lies at 656.97 m asl.

3.3. Area B North: the excavation of the Main Inner Wall and the Outer Wall
In the seventeenth season (2021), the exploration of city fortification continued towards the east in square CaII7 + baulk CaII6/7. Here a further stretch of the Main Inner Wall was unearthed, starting from the point where it joins with the Outer Wall, which ends against its northern face. The MIW is preserved with big boulders set on the bedrock, while the Outer Wall shows a northern battering face, leaning on a abutting structure, probably a squared tower with a plastered floor (fig. 10).

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. In this campaign (2019), restoration works were carried out on the Palace, envisaging after ten years from its first discovery and overall restoration and protection. Works were concentrated inside it in order to complete the rehabilitation and to set up draining devices through the walls. The final results is surely admirable.

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. Aref Nahar Sabbah. The new iron fence with barbed wire encircling it on all sides of the khirbat represents a good protection from these threatens. 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.

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 auto-route running into Wadi az-Zarqa. In the future, it may represent an easy stop for coaches carrying tourist group to Jerash (Nigro 2013a, p. 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 (fig. 17), 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.

7. Conclusions
The seventeenth season (2021) 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 also in the Early Bronze Age IV after the fall of the flourishing EB II-III city. A variety of data was gathered and processed in order to improve the historical reconstruction within a firmly based interpretation.
During excavation and restoration activities, monuments and materials were carefully documented and restored. Archaeological material retrieved in the campaign are processed with classification and insertion of data in interactive databases, which collect all information on finds (from the typological ones to the spatial and stratigraphic 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 (www.lasapienzatojordan.it).
The results of field activities and tourist valorisation of Rome «La Sapienza» Expedition to Khirbet al-Batrawy were divulgated 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 (12 ICAANE). 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: www.lasapienzatojordan.it).