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2012 Results

The north gate found in 2011 (area 1) suggested that buildings might line a “street” in the intervening space before the Northern Area. A new square in Area 4 revealed a room which may have been one of a series of shops along the eastern front of the settlement. Likewise, as preliminary to the goals for the Northern Area, the enigma of the stairway (Area 2) required further investigation. As in the 2011 trench, the upper levels showed important evidence of Abbasid occupation of this portion of the site.

The 2012 season of excavations successfully brought the Northern Area into archaeological prominence as an integral part of Qasr Hisham. The large grape press with white mosaic floors represents the intensive agricultural activities of an estate in the Umayyad period. The series of rooms and a large courtyard of a large house indicates continuing occupation during the early Abbasid period (9th century).

The first settlement was an early palace or residential settlement, perhaps antecedent to the palace complex of Qasr Hisham. One may consider the Northern Area to have been an agricultural estate (day’a) during the Umayyad and Abbasid historical periods, the economic foundation for support of the palace complex. Not only is the size of Qasr Hisham now twice as large, but it now has two different parts: the elite palace, mosque, and bath, and, on the other hand, a complex agricultural estate. This line of research opens a dramatically new and more nuanced understanding of early Islamic settlement.