Excavation of an Umayyad castle

Jean-Baptiste Humbert

Archaeologist at the Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem

icon-calendar 2 May 2017

Archeology consists of luck and surprises. By searching for traces of the Aramean people (often mentioned in the Bible, but not well known), Jean-Baptiste Humbert, OP became interested in the site of Mafraq in the north of Jordan in 1986.

An initial excavation revealed traces of a much more recent occupation on the site:  a palace of the Umayyad period, whose furnishings found on location displayed the brilliant decor of a great cosmopolitan civilization (objects coming from Armenia, Egypt, Yemen or Syria), still marked by the Byzantine administration of the previous period.

A particularly remarkable piece was a brazier made of bronze with an often erotic décor. This is consistent with ornaments of the Umayyad Palace in Jericho (irbat al-Mafgar, or Hisham’s Palace), and shows a side of this early Islamic civilization far different from the conventional image. This perhaps may explain in part why research was discontinued.

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