Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa from Late Antiquity to the Ottoman period. First series: Lebanon & Jordan
As part of the webinar series Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa from Late Antiquity to the Ottoman period, the Ifpo is pleased to announce the first series of meetings that will focus on Lebanon and Jordan and will take place every two weeks during the year 2021 (January-July & September-December).
The goal of this series of conferences is to bring together specialists working on a broad region extending from North Africa to the Middle East and focusing on the period from Late Antiquity to Modern era. As the current pandemic is forcing us to reinvent ways of communicating and sharing our work, a webinar would be an opportunity to reconnect the academic community of researchers working on this field. It is open as widely as possible and aims to gather together archaeologists working on this large area as well as students.
While other regions will be addressed in the following cycles, this first series focuses on archaeology and material culture of Lebanon and Jordan. These meetings will present, on the one hand, ongoing projects and, on the other hand, comparative data and synthesis studies, which will allow to frame this region into a broader historical and geographical context.
Free access on registration for each session via this link
January, the 28th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
The Rural Renaissance of Mamluk Jordan: Tall Hisban in Context, by Bethany J. Walker (University of Bonn)
The recent “rural turn” in Islamic archaeology is nowhere more evident than in the rapidly growing interest in the Middle Islamic period in Jordan. The 13th-14th centuries CE is a rich time culturally and historically. Having documented the Mamluk-era phases of construction and reuse of the Crusader and Ayyubid castles, archaeologists are now turning to the extensive archaeological remains of rural settlements to reconstruct daily life in small communities. As most of what stands above ground is Mamluk in date, and the Citadel and village houses are quite well preserved, the site of Tall Ḥisbān has become the type-site of this period in Jordan.
This lecture will summarize the rather surprising results of the last two decades of fieldwork at this site, and what light it sheds on such issues as rural revival, peasant migration, agrarian knowledge and crafts, family life, and the relationship between Jordanian villages and the Mamluk state.
Bethany Walker (PhD 1998, University of Toronto, Middle Eastern Studies) is a Research Professor at the University of Bonn, where she holds the Chair of Mamluk Studies and directs the Research Unit of Islamic Archaeology in the Department of Islamic Studies. She was also the co-director of Bonn’s Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg, a Center for Advanced Research in Mamluk Studies. A historically trained archaeologist and Arabist, Walker directs multiple archaeological projects in Jordan and abroad, including the excavations at Tall Ḥisbān. Prof. Walker is founding editor of the Journal of Islamic Archaeology, founding co-editor of Equinox’s Monographs in Islamic Archaeology, and co-editor of the recently published Oxford Handbook of Islamic Archaeology; serves on numerous American and French editorial boards; and is a long-time Board member of the American Center of Research in Amman. Her monograph Jordan in the Late Middle Ages: Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier was published by Chicago Press in 2011. She has worked in Jordan for over twenty years.
February, the 11th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
The Role of the Islamic Coins in Reading the History of a Site: Baalbak and Beirut as example, by Hassan Akra (Lebanese University)
Coins have not only an economic function, as a medium of exchange, but also other relevant functions: for instance, they can be a propaganda instrument intended to propagate the ideology of a political or/and religious power in place. The economic aspect revealed through the material aspect of coins, namely their intrinsic value (weight and alloy), makes it possible to perceive the financial and monetary policy of a State at a specific moment in its history and reflects as well the vicissitudes and vagaries of the political or economic situation as it may appear at the time of the strike. However, the coins legend – « any inscription appearing on the obverse and/or reverse of a coin: a name, a title, an indication of the mint, value, a date, a religious motto or not …” (Dictionnaire de Numismatique 2001) – is also rich in information. Here we will focus mainly on these data and their evolution throughout the medieval period.
By crossing these data both with written sources (especially chronicles of historians of the time) and archaeological documentation, coins become a tool of great importance. On the one hand, they enable us to read the history of a site or a city: in this context, we will present here the history of Baalbek in medieval times through coins (636-1516). On the other hand, coin hoards will help to fill monetary and/or historical gaps on a very precise period: in this context, we will present the Abbasid hoard discovered in Beirut and the Crusaders hoard discovered in Sarepta/Sarfand.
Dr. Hassan Al-Akra holds a PhD in “Archeology, History and Documents” from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE) in Paris. He is specialized in numismatic studies of the medieval period.
He is currently Assistant Professor at the Lebanese University, at the Department of Arts and Archeology, Faculty of Human Sciences, Section 3 – Tripoli. He is researcher at the National Museum of Beirut, where he is studying medieval coins (from Islamic and Crusaders periods) and co-director of the archaeological project at Abu-l-Hasan Fort, a fort of the Medieval period, in Sfaray/Jezzine. He is instructor at the Ministry of Tourism, where he teaches the course “Archeological sites” for the diploma in Tourist Guidance.
He published several articles about the political and religious change in the Middle East through the study of coins, and he has given many seminaries on cultural, historical and contemporary heritage of religious and historical sites and museums.
His books “L’Histoire de Baalbek à l’époque médiévale d’après les monnaies” (Presses de l’Ifpo) won the prize of “Medaille Drouin” from the French Academy and the Samir Shamma Prize from the British Museum in 2018.
Since 2018, he is the General Director of the Lebanese National Library.
February, the 25th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
The Late Petra Project: settlement in post-urban Petra, by Micaela Sinibaldi (Shanghai International Studies University – Cardiff University)
The Late Petra Project aims at reconstructing the history of the Islamic period in the Petra valley and broader region; the project has demonstrated that there were no significant chronological gaps in the occupation of the area during the Islamic period and therefore that the region was never completely abandoned. The project has involved fieldwork with several international archaeological teams working in Petra, including the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project. The Islamic Baydha Project, which is a key component of the Late Petra Project, investigates a rural village consisting of the most substantial available evidence of the Islamic period in the Petra region, and including the only two mosques ever excavated in the region. The project takes a holistic approach where the components of research, training and community engagement all work in close synergy.
Dr. Micaela Sinibaldi is a Visiting Professor at the Shanghai International Studies University, Institute for the Global History of Civilizations and a Honorary Research Fellow at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University. She is the Director of the Islamic Baydha Project in Petra. Micaela specializes in the archaeology of the Islamic and Crusader periods in the Levant. After obtaining a PhD from Cardiff University with a thesis on the Crusader period in the Lordship of Transjordan, she has held post-doctoral positions at Humboldt-Universität and Freie Universität, Berlin and at the Council for British Research in the Levant and she has served as acting Deputy Director at the Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem (Council for British Research in the Levant). With K. Lewis, J. Thompson and B. Major she has co-edited Crusader Landscapes in the Medieval Levant. The Archaeology and History of the Latin East, University of Wales Press (2016).
March, the 11th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
The medieval heritage of Anfeh and its neighborhood (North Lebanon), by Patricia Antaki (University of Balamand)
The investigations conducted in the region of Anfeh in North Lebanon by the Department of Archaeology and Museology of the university of Balamand since 2011 have unveiled the rich past of this coastal town. One of the main periods that has been highlighted is the medieval period and especially the Crusader one during which Anfeh had the status of a lordship of the County of Tripoli. The archaeological evidence includes the remains of a fortress and its triple ditch erected on a long peninsula as well as several religious buildings scattered in Anfeh and its surroundings. Artisanal installations like oil presses have come to light in various places. Moreover, the medieval occupation in almost every surveyed sector of the region is attested by the substantial amount of uncovered material which consists mainly of a large variety of pottery, both local and imported.
Dr. Patricia Antaki is a PhD medieval archaeologist and director of the Department of Archaeology and Museology of the University of Balamand in North Lebanon. Her research interests and publications are mostly related to the archaeology of the Crusader period in Lebanon and the Levantine region. These include studies of Frankish settlements (Beirut, Tyre, Anfeh, Beaufort …), fortifications’ examinations (Tyre city-walls, Beirut citadel, Beaufort fortress, Sidon sea castle, fortified harbours, fortified caves …) as well as churches’ and monasteries’ investigations (cathedral of Tyre, Holy Saviour chapel of Tyre, Saint George Greek-Orthodox cathedral of Beirut, Cistercian abbey of Balamand, chapels of Jbeil and Batroun mountains…). Her field of research also covers various aspects of the material culture of the Crusades such as masons’ marks, sundials, church piscinas, acoustic jars, graffiti, oil lamps and board games.
April 1(3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
The Umayyad and early Abbasid Reservoir-Enclosure of ‘Ayn Sawdā(Azraq Oasis, Jordan), by Lorraine Abu-Azizeh, Julie Bonnéric, Barbara Couturaud, Aurélien Stavy (Ifpo)
The ‘Ayn Sawdā spring is located at the centre of the Azraq oasis, in the Eastern Desert of Jordan. It is enclosed by a long wall previously interpreted as a huge water reservoir. The site is mostly known thanks to the discovery of many basalt blocks with mortise and tenon joints, several being carved with figurative representations in bas and high reliefs. It forms an exceptional archaeological collection with no known iconographic parallel. Faced by uncertainties concerning both the function and the dating of the structure, the Azraq ‘Ayn Sawdā Reservoir Project undertook in 2013-2016 a topographical plan, an inventory of the carved blocks, excavations, architectural study and preservation assessment. This work led to interpret the site as a multipurpose agricultural enclosure including water facilities, reviling very original and various building technics, dated to the Umayyad period and probably reconfigured at the beginning of the Abbassid times.
Lorraine Abu Azizeh is a French architect, specialised on culture heritage conservation and restoration. She has been working for more than 10 years, as well in architecture offices in France as on archaeological sites contexts in the Middle East. She has been leading the Azraq Ayn Sawda Reservoir Project.
Julie Bonnéric is an archaeologist, currently researcher at the French Institute of the Near East and head of Amman branch. She is a specialist of early and middle Islamic periods in the Middle East and her research focuses on the religious and social evolutions following the conquests. She excavated in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya and Qatar and she is the co-director of the French-Kuwaiti Archaeological Mission in Failaka and leads the excavation of al-Qusur monastery (Kuwait).
Barbara Couturaud is an archaeologist, specialized in ancient Near east in the Early Bronze Age. She has participated in various excavations in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait, ranging from Late chalcolithic to Medieval period. Since 2018, she is a researcher at the Ifpo in Erbil.
Aurélien Stavy is a French architect and urbanist based in Paris. Wishing to address the various issues of sustainable land development, he promotes an interdisciplinary practice: architecture, urban planning, environmental consultant, and archaeological research. He joined the Azraq Ayn Sawda Reservoir Project as a consultant on traditionnal building techniques and agricultural facilities.
April, the 8th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
Restore and rehabilitate Al-Qastal mosque, by Ahmad Lash (Department of Antiquities of Jordan)
Al-Qastal, considered as one of the most famous Umayyad ruin in Jordan, is located 35 km south of Amman. The most significant part in this site is the Umayyad mosque and his unique minaret, probably the oldest Islamic minaret still standing in the Islamic world. The mosque was in a very bad and dangerous situation. This paper will focus on the restoration, rehabilitation, and protection works, particularly the reconstruction of the western wall, the protection of the courtyard and the restoration and rehabilitation for the internal part of the mosque. as well as the question of the Mesopotamians influences which appeared in the Umayyad monuments in Transjordan in the eight century AD.
Ahmad Lash is the Head of the Archaeological Loans and external collaboration Sector, at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. He obtained his BA in Archaeology from the University of Jordan in 1997, and has since worked on a wide variety of projects in archaeology and heritage throughout the country. In addition to the Azraq Community Archaeology Program, he is a head of Roots project which aim to digitize, sort and protect all the old archive at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, he has been closely involved in the development of the MEGA Jordan database system, and he led the restoration and excavations at the “desert castles” sites of Al-Azraq, Amra, Tuba, Mushatta and Qastal.
April, the 22th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
Crossing Medieval and Islamic Studies in Jordan. Medieval Petra and Shawbak in cc. 12-14: a Light Archaeology, by Michele Nucciotti (Università di Firenze, Director of Medieval Petra Italian Archaeological Mission in Jordan)
The Italian Archaeological Mission ‘Medieval Petra: archaeology of Crusader-Ayyubid settlement in Transjordan’ operates in the area of Petra and Shawbak since 1986, when it was established by Florence University and prof. Guido Vannini, director until 2019. The need to contextualize the history of the region into wider Euro-Mediterranean scenarios was answered by bridging Crusader and Islamic Studies within a Medieval Studies framework. Recently an even wider perspective, of Eurasian Middle Ages, was explored in order to interpret this very context.
The presentation will focus on the main archaeological testimonies grounding the times and modes of medieval settlement and landscape transformations in the region, from such a standpoint, with reference to the most recent results of our research in the sites of Al-Wu’ayra, Al-Habis, Petra valley, Shawbak castle and medina and the surrounding rural and trade-routes environment, in cc. 12-14.
Michele Nucciotti is associate Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Florence. From 2002 co-director and from 2019 director of Medieval Petra archaeological mission in Jordan (University of Florence and Italian Foreign Office), Michele directs from 2014 the Italian archaeological mission in Armenia, ‘the Making of the Silk Road in Vayots Dzor – cc. VII-XIV’ and from 2001 several field and research projects of Medieval Archaeology, Light Archaeology and Public Archaeology in Italy, Iraq and France.
Author of over 80 scientific contributions and articles and editor of 5 books, was elected in the steering committee of the Italian Society of Medieval Archaeologists in 2012, and serves as member of national and international scientific committees of peer-reviewed journals (“Archeologia Medievale”,“Ricerche Storiche”) and series (“Limina Limites”, BAR Oxford, Uk;“Archeologia Pubblica”, Florence UniversityPress). Recently served as coordinator in Heritage-related local/regionaldevelopment EU projects in Tuscany (2006-2008) and Euro-Mediterranean regions (from 2009 to present), in order to contribute to the strategic optimization of archaeological sites’ management and to the development of local/regional participative tourist master plans and museums.
May, the 6th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
Umm as-Surab (north-eastern Jordan): Settlement Dynamics in the Islamic periods. New data from Building Archaeology, by Piero Gilento (CNRS UMR 7041 ArScAn – Ifpo)
The site of Umm as-Surab is located in the extreme north of Jordan and is part of an articulated and homogeneous system of rural settlements that are distributed over a large basaltic area that also includes an important part of the south of present-day Syria. The Hellenistic-Roman and Byzantine periods are archaeologically well represented thanks to the presence of temples, churches and monasteries as well as a well-studied corpus of Greek and Latin inscriptions and a good knowledge of pottery. In recent years, new research perspectives have also been opened for the periods following the Islamic conquest, thanks to an ever-increasing interest and attention to the material culture of rural contexts for these periods.
This lecture, following this line of research, will reflect on the settlement dynamics of the village of Umm as-Surab, highlighting the phase of occupation of the Mamluk period and discussing some chronological gaps. The results of the archaeological analysis of the still-standing structures (i.e. Building Archaeology) will be presented, integrating the data from stratigraphy and typology together with the archaeometric ones.
Piero Gilento (PhD 2013, University of Siena, Archaeology) is an Associate Researcher at UMR7041-CNRS and University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and scientific coordinator at Archaïos for the Building Archaeology pole in the French-Saudi project MuDUD for the study of the Old Town of Al-‘Ula.
He is co-director of the French-Jordanian Mission de Haute Jordanie – MHJ and was Principal Investigator of the ACTECH project funded with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship (2017-2019). He currently collaborates with the Ifpo (Amman branch) for the preparation of a maintenance and tourism development plan for the Umm as-Surab site as part of a program funded by the European Commission and managed by UNESCO.
May, 20th (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
Ablution rooms of mosques in medieval Near East, by Marie-Odile Rousset (CNRS UMR 5133 Archéorient)
June, 3rd (3h-4h PM CET, 4h-5h PM in Amman & Beirut)
Overview on the archeological research in the Shouf Mountains from late Antiquity to the Maan dynasty, by Wissam Khalil (Lebanese University)
This lecture focuses on the study of rural settlements in the mountains and coasts of the Lebanese Shouf region from the end of the Protobyzantine period to the Maan dynasty (16th – 17th century). It sheds light on the nature of the occupation of this vast territory, its road network, and its fortifications. Yet very prosperous in Roman times and at the beginning of the Protobyzantine era, this territory probably declined starting from the Omayyad era, when villages were abandoned, and regains importance and prosperity in the Mamluk period. Through a multidisciplinary approach, by using historical and archaeological data, this presentation tries to provide an explanation for this hiatus in the occupation of the region.
Wissam Khalil is a Lebanese archaeologist. He lectures at the Department of Arts and Archaeology of the Lebanese University both in Beirut and Sidon branches. His academic teaching focuses mostly on Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, and his research aims to shed light on forgotten and unknown archaeological sites, to survey new territories in order to discover ancient settlements and to study their material culture and population. He directed the Archaeological Mission of Qasr Swayjani (Shouf mountains) from 2011 to 2015; he is currently co-directing the Kharayeb-Adloun Archaeological Project (South Lebanon) with the Italian Council of Research – Rome since 2013. Additionally, since 2003, he has been collaborating with the Shouf Biosphere Reserve on management and valorization of historical and archaeological sites.
July 8th at 3 pm CET / 4pm in Amman and Beirut
This lecture presents the results of architectural and archeological research carried out in Baalbek by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, the BTU-Cottbus and the General Directorate of Antiquities of Lebanon and focused on the understanding of the urban development of the site. In particular, architectural and archaeological records of the excavated area of « Bustan Nassif », which covers the time span from the late Roman to the Mamluk period, will be presented and contextualized with the overall urban development of Baalbek. These data will be compared with the abundant material evidence collected in this area. A significant quantity of ceramics has been unearthed, documenting the history of common and fine wares on the site from the 12th through the early 15th centuries. Archaeological data from this sector have also provided evidence for the understanding of an assemblage of sphero-conical vessels.
Heike Lehmann is a German building researcher with a special interest in questions concerning the relationship between urban an architectural development and questions on society and social organization. The publication of her PhD thesis on the urban development of Baalbek between the 5th and 20th century (Baalbek in nachantiker Zeit [Orient-Archaologie ; Bd. 35], Leidorf 2015) was awarded as the best PhD of the BTU Cottbus in 2016. From 2014-2020 she taught architectural history and monument preservation at the Universität zu Köln. Currently, she is affiliated at the Technische Universität Berlin leading a building research project in Madinat al-Zahra, the 10th c. residence of the Umayyad caliphs of Córdoba (Spain).
Valentina Vezzoli is research fellow at the Department of Arabic, Medieval and Modern Studies of the Institut Français du Proche Orient in Beirut. She received her PhD at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her research focuses on the study of material culture and human landscape in the Middle East during the Islamic period, with a special focus on distribution and production of ceramic objects. She also explores cultural and economic interactions between the Islamic world and the Mediterranean.