One does not often read reports in the media of archaeological surveys, and this review of the Jarash Hinterland Survey is an interesting account of the final season in October 2010. The article notes that the population of Jerash (biblical Gerasa) has doubled in the last 15 years, making the survey of field and farm, tomb and quarry, an important project. They estimate that about “10% of the archaeological sites around the city are being lost to development year upon year.”
The team faced dangers such as scorpions, shabab-ed, and nappies. But they had great success as well, identifying 203 tombs, along with numerous other ancient features.
It is all too easy to get distracted from the survey by kind offers of tea, but as always local knowledge is gained as a result. For instance, to be informed that a tomb containing about twenty sarcophagi on Abu Suwan had been used as a bomb shelter in 1973 and had subsequently been filled in leaving no visible trace represented a great result. The route of a Classical water course in the Wadi Deir – now scattered and bulldozed – was shown to us by a man who played in it as a child. An intense artefact scatter also got us excited, only to be told to our disappointment that it had been deposited by trucks moving earth from elsewhere in the preceding few months.
The article includes a video and some great photos (click one to begin a slideshow).
HT: Jack Sasson