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14-03-2015, 03:33


Quality of construction, and the poor domestic remains within its perimeter.

Following the destruction of the Iron Age enclosure, settlement at Jezreel apparently continued uninterruptedly until the twentieth century CE. Remains of the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods have been found. During the Byzantine period, a densely populated settlement (Esdraela of Eusebius’s Onomasticon) existed here. Structural remains were found all over the site and its outsldrts, as well as inside the disused Iron Age moat.

During the period of the Crusades, a settlement belonging to the Templars, Le Petit Gerin, existed here. It is mentioned several times in association witlt battles of the period. Its center was apparently at the western side of the site, where an Ottoman tower is located, founded on Crusader walls—probably the remains of the crusader settlement’s main building or fort. A church was built nearby. In later periods, the Arab village of Zer'in developed on this part of tlie site.


Ussishkin, David, and John Woodhead. “Excavations at Tel Jezreel, 1990-1991: Preliminary Report.” Tel Aviv 19 (1992): 3-56. Ussishkin, David, and John Woodhead, “Excavations at Tel Jezreel, 1992-1993: Second Preliminary Report.” levant 26 (1994): 1-48. Williamson, H. G. M. “Jezreel in tlie Biblical Texts.” Tel Aviv 18 (1991): 72-92.

David Ussishkin

JILAT, WADI EL-, tributary of Wadi ed-Dabi (Wadi Dhobai), which drains tlie southwestern sector of tire Azraq basin, an internal drainage basin in north-central Jordan (3i°3o' N, 36°25' E). The wadi runs tlirough low hills of Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary limestones, marls, and cherts, at elevations of between 950 and 750 m. These are located in tlie present-day transition zone between steppe and desert, receiving about 100 mm of rainfall per year. The western drainage is covered by loessic soils held in place by perennial grasses and other vegetation; the eastern sector is actively deflating into a desert environment. A series of Pleistocene and Plolocene fluvial, colluvial, and eolian deposits has been identifled on tlie valley floor (Garrard et al,, 1988). A gorge cuts tlirough these deposits, in which water may be found after winter rains. This attracts bedouin who graze camel, sheep, and goats in tliis region between late autumn and spring.

In 1937-1938, John d’A. Waechter et al. (1938) conducted an archaeological survey in tlie valley, recording a number of Epipaleolithic and Neolitliic sites, as well as a well-constructed dam of historic date. Waechter excavated soundings at two of the prehistoric sites (Dhobai B and K), which have recently been the subject of more intensive research. Between 1982 and 1989 six seasons of paleoenvironmental and archaeological survey and excavations were conducted in the valley focusing on the Paleolithic and Neolithic occupation (Garrard et al., 1994). More than thirty Stone Age sites were found in a 5-ldlometer (3 mi.) stretch of the valley floor; soundings were excavated at eight of them and broader area excavations were undertaken at another five.

The most spectacular of the Epipaleolithic sites is Jilat 6 (Garrard and Byrd, 1992). The site forms a low mound and is covered by a dense canopy of flint artifacts for an area of

20,000 sq m (2 ha, or 5 acres). With the exception of Kha-raneh 4, which is located 25 km (16 mi.) to the north, Jilat 6 is tlie largest site of its period known in the Near East. Although the scale may partly be the result of erosion, it is thought to represent a seasonal aggregation site used by hunter-gatherers in the period around 14,000 bce. Animal and plant remains demonstrate that the gfoups subsisted on gazelle, wild ass, hare, and tlie seeds and tubers of the local steppic plants.

A series of Neolitliic sites was excavated dating to between 7500 and 5500 BCE (Garrard et al., 1994). These are much smaller than contemporary sites in tlie better-watered areas to the west and were probably occupied seasonally. Excavations revealed semisubterranean circular or oval dwellings with external walls built from upright slabs of the local limestone. Roofs were probably constructed from perishable organic materials. The site of Jilat 26 (c. 6700 bce) contained a semicircle of twenty such structures, with evidence of an outdoor activity area on tlie side sheltered from the wind. Plant remains from the Jilat Neolithic sites indicate that domestic wheat and barley were in use from tlie earliest levels onward; it is unclear, however, whether tliese were cultivated locally or imported from areas to the west. [5’ee Cereals,] Presently ±e local climate is too arid for regular cultivation. The animal remains indicate that hunting of gazelle and hare remained important down to 6000 bce. Later Neolithic sites contain substantial numbers of sheep and goat bones thought to derive from imported livestock. Their appearance provides a terminus ante quern for the process of caprine domestication in the southern Levant. [See Sheep and Goats.]

With the exception of a minor excavation at die Early Bronze Age site of Jilat 27 (Garrard, unpublished), no work has been done on later prehistoric sites and burial cairns in die region. However, the dam, which has been described as one “of the most impressive hydraulic architectural structures in Jordan,” is the subject of an article by Konstantinos D. Politis (1993, quotation from p. 43). It was built across the main gorge and is 58 m long, 5 m wide, and 6 m in maximum height. Its downstream face is built from stepped ashlar masonry, supported by three buttresses. Politis found Nabatean sherds in the cement, but the presence of Byzantine and Umayyad sherds in the vicinity suggests that tlie present dam may have been built in this later period. The reservoir area has completely filled in with silt, which may have happened quite rapidly after its construction. It has been suggested that tlie dam may have been built as a showpiece or as a gift to local tribes in exchange for support (King et al., 1983).


Garrard, Andrew N., et al, “Environment and Subsistence during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene in the Azraq basin.” Paleorient 14.2 (1988): 40-49. Summary of environmental work in Wadi el-Jilat.

Garrard, Andrew N., and Brian F. Byrd, “New Dimensions to the Epipalaeolithic of the Wadi el-Jilat in Central Jordan.” Patiorient 18,1 (1992): 47-62. Describes the main Epipaleolithic sites.

Garrard, Andrew N., et al, “The Chronological Basis and Significance of the Late Palaeolithic and Neolithic Sequence in the Azraq basin, Jordan.” In Late Quaternary Chronology and Paleoclimates of the Eastern Mediterranean, edited by Ofer Bar-Yosef and Renee S. Kra, pp. 177-199. Radiocarbon, Tucson, 1994. Summary of recent prehistoric investigations.

Garrard, Andrew N., et al. “Prehistoric Environment and Settlement in the Azraq basin: An Interim Report on tlie 1987 and 1988 Excavation Seasons.” Levant 26 (1994): 73-109. Description of the Neolithic sites.

King, Geoffrey R. D., et al. “Survey of Byzantine and Islamic Sites in Jordan; Second Season Report, 1981.” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 27 (1983): 385-436. A brief discussion of the dam.

Politis, Konstantinos D. “The Stepped Dam at Wadi el-Jilat.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 125 (1993): 43-49. Detailed discussion of the dam.

Waechter, John d’A., et al. “The Excavations at Wadi Dhobai, 19371938, and tlie Dhobaian Industry.” Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society 18 (1938): 172-186, 292-298. Initial fieldwork in Wadi el-Jilat.

Andrew N. Garrard

JORDAN. See Transjordan.

JORDAN VALLEY. The Jordan Rift Valley lies between the Sea of Galilee and tlie Dead Sea. It is situated below sea level and encompasses the lowest spot on earth. The Jordan Valley is part of a much larger rift extending from Iskanderun in North Syria into Africa, beyond the Red Sea. It is bordered by two ranges of mountains with steep slopes on its west and east sides tliat rise to about 500-1200 m above sea level. Its eastern highland is interrupted by several side wadis running east-west and emptying into the Jordan River or the Dead Sea; Wadi el-Yarmuk, Wadi el-‘Arab, Wadi Ziqlab, Wadi el-Jirm, Wadi el-Yabis, Wadi Kafranja, Wadi Rajib, Wadi ez-Zerqa, Wadi Shu'eib, Wadi el-Kaf-rain, Wadi er-Ramah, and Wadi Azeimah. [See Ziqlab, Wadij Yabis, Wadi el-; Shu'eib, Wadi.] These wadis, together with other water sources, account for the valley’s continuous occupation. The valley varies in width. It is about 2 km across near Tell es-Sa‘idiyeh and the modern village of Kraymeh, but it becomes much wider (about 18

Ion, or II mi.) to the soutli, around tlie plains of Sweimeh and Jericho. [See Sa'idiyeh, Tell es-.] The west side of the valley is narrower tlian the east side and has a smaller number of side wadis with perennial streams. There are also fewer modern villages and archaeological sites than on the east. The main wadis on the west are Nahr el-Jalud, Wadi el-Malih, Wadi el-Far‘ah, Wadi el-Auja, and Wadi el-Qelt. The Marj ibn Amir (Esdraelon Valley) cuts through the western highland to become the main connecting corridor between the Ghor and the Mediterranean Sea. The Ghor, the major part of the valley, is flat and has been cultivated tliroughout history. All the major wadis on both sides of the valley have carved courses for tliemselves through the floor of the Ghor, preparing suitable locations for many major and small settlements, including the northern Jordan Valley’s important archaeological sites of Beisan (Beth-Shean) and Tabaqat Fahl (Pella). [See Beth-Shean; Pella.] The area between Wadi Shu'eib and Wadi ez-Zerqa (a distance of about 15 km, or 9 mi.) was not irrigated until the Umayyad period, around Ghor Kibid, and then in connection with the modern extension of the East Ghor Canal. Irrigation meant bringing water from distant streams. [See Irrigation; Agriculture.]

The Jordan Valley consists of three main geographic zones: ez-Zor is the small valley cut by the Jordan River until it empties into the Dead Sea. The Zor is up to a lulometer wide, but it lacks major settlements because of flooding and the changing bed of the Jordan River in this zone. The second zone is called al-Katar, a region of barren, desiccated hills that separates the Ghor from the Zor. These hills date from the Pleistocene Age, and some were settled in the Neolithic Chalcolithic, Early Bronze, and Iron Ages. The major part of the valley is al-Ghor (see above).

Archaeological and ethnoarchaeological studies have shown strong connections between tlie Jordan Valley and the highlands in all periods. The inhabitants of the Jordan Valley have had to locate their settlements carefully, taking into consideration the availability of water, security, and roads. They have also had to avoid areas subject to floods and earthquakes, or adapt themselves to tlieir occurrence. In most cases tlie Ghor’s good soil was protected and settlements were placed on barren land or in tlie foothills. Those settlements were constructed mainly of mud bricks and reeds, in contrast to stone, the main building material in the highlands.

Agriculture has always been the main occupation of Ghor setders, whose abundance was distributed beyond the boundaries of the Jordan Valley. Its tomatoes, cucumbers, and other products are still exported. During the Islamic period, it was die main source of cane sugar for the area of greater Syria (see below).