Catacombs at Beth She’arim, Cultural Heritage Management in Jordan & Iron Age Diet: ICS Advisor Talks at the 2017 ASOR (Boston, November 15-18, 2017)

Two members of ICS's advisory board, Prof. Joseph Greene of the Harvard Semitic Museum and Prof. Zeev Weiss of the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, are presenting at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. ASOR-Program-2017-online.

Session 5C Cultural Heritage Management: Methods, Practices, and Case Studies I.
Thursday, November 25, 8:20. Joseph Greene (Harvard University), “Cultural Resource Management in Jordan, 30 Years On” (20 min.) Glenn J. Corbett (American Center of Oriental Research), presiding.

Joseph Greene (Harvard University), “Cultural Resource Management in Jordan, 30 Years On”

Abstract: This is a retrospective on cultural resource management in Jordan over the past three decades, 1987–2017. The Jordan Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Project began in 1987, jointly supported by the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DAJ). The idea for the CRM Project grew out of a desire to help ACOR cope with the increasingly urgent calls from the DAJ for assistance with archaeological rescue. In the mid-1980s, a building boom in Amman and the expansion of roadways and other infrastructure throughout the Kingdom had overwhelmed the DAJ’s slender resources. In its original conception, however, the CRM Project was not aimed primarily at meeting the need for more emergency excavations (although the CRM Project did conduct a rescue project on the Amman Citadel), but rather at promoting coordination between the DAJ and the various ministries and departments concerned with economic development, infrastructure expansion, and local, regional, and national planning. In the following decades, the CRM Project evolved under successive directors, sponsors, and funders into other aspects of CRM: computerized site inventories (JADIS; MEGA-Jordan), cultural heritage management capacity building, tourism-based site reconstructions, and local income-generating enterprises. Simultaneously, Jordanian universities created programs to train students in CRM and to conduct archaeological rescue, site rehabilitation, and monument reconstruction. As a result, after three decades the expression “cultural resource management” is no longer the foreign phrase it was in Jordan in 1987.

Thursday, November 25, 3:40. Session 7D: Archaeology of Jordan I.  Marta D’Andrea (Sapienza University of Rome) and M. Barbara Reeves (Queen’s University), presiding. 

Wilma Wetterstrom (Semitic Museum, Harvard University; Ancient Egypt Research Associates) and Joseph Greene (Semitic Museum, Harvard University), “Unpublished Plant Remains from Tell el-Kheleifeh Provide New Insights into an Edomite Entrepôt”

Abstract: Glueck’s 1938–1940 excavations at Tell el-Kheleifeh produced archaeobotanical and geological collections not included in Pratico’s 1993 publication of the architecture, pottery, epigraphy, and metallurgy from the site. The unpublished plant remains, part of the Nelson Glueck–ASOR Archive at the Semitic Museum, Harvard University, are now being studied by Wilma Wetterstrom. These remains, nearly all charred, open a new window onto Tell el-Kheleifeh. They include foods to be expected at any Iron Age Near Eastern settlement: barley, wheat, dates, and figs. The figs—a liter of exceptionally well preserved fruits—suggest the possibility of local cultivation. Plump and free of wrinkles, they appear to have been burned while fresh. Since fresh figs are perishable it is unlikely that they were imported but rather grown locally, tended by hand-watering. The barley, over 9,000 charred hulled grains found in a pot along with minute quantities of wheat and chaff, may have been cultivated locally as well. Rainfall runoff could have supported cereal farming in this semi-arid region (Ramsay and Parker 2016). Also present are woody species, which offer clues to local conditions. Charred palm timbers suggest limited access to true trees. Fragments of burnt fuel comprise a variety of species rather than one or two woods, suggesting that firewood came mainly from shrubs and small trees found in the Wadi Arabah.

Thursday, November 15, 4:20-6:30. Session 4J: New Discoveries at Beth She‘arim, Hancock. Adi Erlich (University of Haifa), presiding.

Zeev Weiss (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “Beth She‘arim and Beyond: Urban Necropoleis in Roman and Late Antique Galilee” (15 min.)

Abstract: The Beth She‘arim necropolis is central to the study of Jewish society in late antiquity. Over thirty catacombs have been excavated to date, and presumably there are more that have not yet been uncovered. The uniqueness of this necropolis lies in its number of graves, their variety, and the quality of the finds, which include many burial inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic as well
as artistic portrayals incised in stone and in relief. This paper will focus on the necropolis at Beth She‘arim but will also examine—owing to its status as a patriarchal burial site—whether its finds are more varied or of a higher quality than those from other sites in Roman and late antique Galilee, or whether the archaeological finds from these other Galilean sites are modest and therefore present an asymmetric picture of the burial and burial practices in the region.
In light of the evidence, it will be argued that the wealth of architectural, artistic, and epigraphic discoveries from the Beth She‘arim necropolis should not be compared to those from rural settlements, but to the material found in the necropoleis of Tiberias and Sepphoris, the two main urban centers reflecting wealth and culture in Roman Galilee. Such a comparison changes the parameters of the equation and provides important observations regarding the nature, size, and magnitude of the urban Galilean necropoleis beyond Beth She‘arim.