JMP'12 Area 5 Excavations

Area 5 began as a small examination of the southeast sector and interest in these rooms led to the ambitious excavation of an entire building, now called the Abbasid house. The peripheral walls are doubled, as in other portions of the Northern Area; they are extensively robbed out and possibly reconstructed in places. The original Umayyad building and other traces of Umayyad occupation seem totally obliterated. The extant building shows two phases of construction, the earlier using natural ground surface ascending from east to west; later filling with raised doorways and higher paved flooring has tended to level the living surfaces.

Since the building had been excavated in the 1960s, a procedure of re-excavating each room was adopted, often finding features and deposits left by the previous excavators. Three baulks left by the Jordanian grid, each 1m wide and 1 - 1.5m high, provided an opportunity to excavate deposition layers in rooms A, B, and H. In general there was an agricultural topsoil and lower Abbasid occupation of the later eighth century.

The largest space of the Abbasid house is the courtyard (A), entered from an eastern (robbed out) doorway and onto a platform in the second phase. The courtyard has storage bins against the northern wall and mastabas (benches) beside the doors to four rooms. Two columns and two plinths, all spolia taken from the palace complex, provided the eastern end of the courtyard with a covered area. The rooms along the south wall are: Room C with a possible exterior entry and Nabi Musa stone paving; this was perhaps a reception room. Room D was a toilet with the facility pieced together from carved arches from the Pavilion building; a separation near the door with marks of a water jar was found. Room E was also paved and had a divided section, perhaps for storage or privacy. A number of artifacts suggest occupation by women. This room was originally connected to Room F of slightly smaller size, though this door was blocked in the second phase. Room B was the largest room of the Abbasid house, a great hall paved with Nabi Musa stones. These stones were probably taken from paving of the North Gate or Pavilion. Presumably the major activities of the household occurred in this hall. On the south end was a large Room G, originally entered through a large doorway which was divided into two doors, each blocked at a different time. The back or west rooms (H and J) had a bench or bins along the outside wall. Evidence of cooking or some crafting suggests these rooms had a special function.

In all then, the Abbasid house was a formal, functional structure not unlike houses in Raqqa, Syria, and other contemporary residences.