The Jordan Valley Excavation Project will be starting a new excavation at Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa, a fortified city on a hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley, just north of Jericho. Registration is now open for the inaugural 2019 season which will run from May 26 to June 23. The project is co-directed by David Ben-Shlomo and Ralph K. Hawkins. For information, visit the project’s website at www.jvep.org.
Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa was surveyed by Adam Zertal, who identified a casemate wall and towers (see photo blow). Zertal concluded, “The main settlement in the site was founded at the beginning of the Iron Age IIB and it was possibly abandoned during Sennacherib’s campaign to Judah in 701 BCE.” But until now the site has not been excavated. The Jordan Valley Excavation Project is interested in determining if there are earlier settlements beneath the Iron IIB remains. One reason for thinking there might is the Jordan Valley Excavation Project discovered Late Bronze II/Iron I at the site of Khirbet el-Mastarah, right next door to Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa. Zertal identified ‘Auja el-Foqa as Ataroth in Joshua 16:5, and Shmuel Ahituv suggested it is the town of Na’arta mentioned in an inscription from Jerusalem. The project’s website provides more details.
This map shows both Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa and Khirbet el-Mastarah, and their relation to the Jordan Valley and Jericho.