The Archaeology of Jordan and Beyond: Essays in Honor of James Sauer

Edited by Lawrence E. Stager, Joseph A. Greene, and Michael D. Coogan. Harvard Semitic Museum Publications Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant 1, 2000. xvi+529 pp.

Yemen Update 43 (2001)

Reviewed by Joy McCorriston

Reading this volume has been an armchair passage through the last 20 years of Near Eastern archaeology in Jordan, Yemen and beyond. Jim Sauer knew and influenced every one of the contributors, many of them now "great names" in Near Eastern scholarship and each of them the source of new insight. There is much to like in this volume, handsomely produced and carefully edited to offer synthetic prose and impeccable form while retaining individual styles and varying tone. With a deeply appreciated and much missed Jim Sauer as the focus, the rest of the volume makes sense, despite the diversity of geographic, substantive, and methodological offerings.

As many know, Sauer's longest attachment in the Near East was his tenure as resident director at the American Center for Oriental Research (ACOR) in Jordan. Yet as ASOR (American Schools of Oriental Research) President, he later became engaged in projects elsewhere, including his patronage leadership of the first American archaeological expedition to return to Yemen since Wendell Phillips' team at Marib in the 1950s. Sauer relied on field directors Michael Toplyn and Jeffrey Blakeley to coordinate survey and stratigraphic probes for the American Foundation for the Study of Man in the Wadi Jubah. One of several valuable results of this project was the strengthened evidence for a "high" chronology that dates earliest Qatabanean and Sabean societies from the 2nd millennium BC; another has been Jim's commitment to training Yemeni scholars alongside the Jordanian and Egyptian students contributing to the present volume. It was through Abdu Othman Ghaleb's (now a professor at Sana'a University) dissertation research that the first evidence of Bronze Age antecedents to Iron Age farming could be documented in the Wadi Jubah region. In addition, Sauer's involvement in Yemen archaeology helped catalyze new American archaeological research in Yemen, and it is paean to his role that three of the volume contributors wrote chapters on Southern Arabia.

John Huehnegard's chapter on previously unpublished Old South Arabian inscriptions documents 13 stone fragments that have languished among 200 purchased objects (acquired 1935-36) in the Harvard Semitic Museum. I am not qualified to comment on the readings and translations provided, but I note with great interest the evidence for corporate ownership of an irrigation canal (HSM 1935.1.8) and its implications for land rights and agricultural production in early Arabian societies. Interdisciplinary work on such topics must build on firm disciplinary foundations like this contribution. A respected Russian colleague once expressed frank incredulity at my own focus on societies lacking writing, for he said, "the research only interests [him] with a combination of epigraphy, anthropology, and archaeology." We are much indebted to the patient labors of epigraphers whose seemingly unenviable task seems often (to the unwitting) a deliberation of how things were said rather than what they say. Without their careful efforts, we would be solely dependent on the silent stones of archaeological monuments, at times a frustrating enterprise.

George Mendenhall discusses the role of prophesy in ancient Israelite contexts and compares it to the contemporary role of poetry in Yemeni tribal society. Mendenhall's musings have been heavily influenced by Steven Caton's book on Yemeni poetics & politics (Peaks of Yemen I Summon. University of California Berkeley Press, 1990), credited for its inspirational role in Mendenhall's paper. In his introduction, Mendenhall rightly cautions against the Orientalist idea of a truncated Near Eastern history, one that effectively terminates with a dark age (i.e., a historical period long uninvestigated by Western scholars) from the Arab conquest to the 20th century. Yet to my surprise, the paper strays into equally ill-conceived intellectual terrain as Mendenhall embraces a notion of fossilized, living-Bible traditions in the highlands of Yemen. ("Virtually every page of [Caton's] book illustrates what life in Palestine was like before the establishment of the monarchy ca. 1020 BCE"). The brevity of the article foreshortens what deserves a lengthier and potentially highly interesting treatment of the processes of continuity, change, and diffusion in cultural traditions of prophets and poets. In his brief conclusion, Mendenhall suggests that Yemen's highland traditions stem from direct continuities&emdash;language movements (ergo population movements?)&emdash;between the Eastern Mediterranean and Yemen at the end of the Bronze Age. According to Mendenhall, the Yemeni poetic traditions therefore are "archaic phenomena" and demonstrate an earlier existence of parallel prophetics in ancient Israel. Most Yemenis would wisely reject this interpretation, and current archaeological evidence of substantial Bronze Age settled communities and exchange networks in the Yemeni highlands has weakened interpretations of incursive Iron Age populations bringing civilization to Yemen from the north. Indeed, recent studies suggest greater connections with Africa and substantial autochthonic cultural development in prehistoric Yemen. Mendenhall's seminal work in the transformation of cultural identity and the formation of ancient Israel has had wide and worthy impact. I look forward to elaboration of the ideas he raises in the Sauer volume and yet hope that he will shy from further implication of modern, dynamic, independent Yemeni traditions as congealed backwater relics of 4000-year-old societies!

George Will also discusses Yemeni antiquity in an attempt to establish a link between architecturally similar temples at Amrit (Syria) and as-Sawda (Yemen). Despite a 300 year chronological gap and a 3000 mile interval, technical and stylistic details suggest common inspiration. Will concludes that conservative architectural techniques and Egyptian-inspired craftsmen can account for the commonalities. This seems not implausible to me: the nearest Cistercian monastery to Santa Maria di Follina (northern Italy) lies north of the Alps and far to the west in Bebenhausen, Germany, and both (contemporaneous, 12th-14th C AD) share the distinctive austerity of décor engendered by Cistercian monastic beliefs.

The editors arranged all papers by alphabetical order of author, an expedient and defensible choice with a compendium as wide-ranging as this volume. Of particular interest to Yemen researchers will be those that touch on connections between Yemen and the north (Khairy, Mendenhall, Parker, Thompson, Will), a topic appropriate to the lifework of Jim Sauer. Other papers review important problems without solution (Bounni, Clark and London), offer new contributions in archaeological or epigraphic data (Brown, Herr, Strange, Whitcomb), provide new insights in ancient iconography (Bisheh, Lapp, Leonard, Kafafi, Smith) or new reports of excavated sequences (Blakeley, Homès-Fredericq, Joukousky). Of particular note are several papers that reflect on changing research approaches over the past decades (Lenzen, Meyers, Parr). In fitting homage to Sauer's outstanding contribution to ceramic typology, several papers offer new refinement of regional or temporal ceramic traditions (Brown, Lapp, Richard, Schaub, Worschech). Contributions in epigraphy (Cross, Huehnergard, Khairy) remind the reader of Sauer's ties both to Biblical studies and archaeology. Papers span a wide geographic spread (Yemen, Oman, Turkey, Syria, and Palestine) despite a focus on Jordan. Equally impressive to geographical span is the chronological spread, with papers covering Paleolithic (Kerry and Henry, Rollefson) through late 19th and early 20th century archaeological practice (Dever, Miller). Perhaps most significantly, Arab scholarship is strongly and admirably represented with fine contributions from Sauer's colleagues, friends, and students (Bisheh, Bounni, Hawass, Ibrahim and ElMahi, Kafafi, Toueir). This seems fitting tribute for one who worked so hard to develop Near Eastern archaeology.

In summary, there are many new ideas and insights here. This is hardly the volume for every scholar's bookshelf, but it does belong in every serious Near Eastern collection. Peruse it, and admire the breadth and depth.


Contents

Tributes and Memoirs……………………………………………………………………..

Portrait……………………………………………………………………………..

Jim Sauer and ACOR's Springtime

Walter E. Rast……………………………………………………………....

James A. Sauer and the Development of Archaeological Awareness in Jordan

Raouf Sa'd Abujaber……………………………………………………….

Citations from the Royal Hashemite Court…………………………………………

Granting of the Citation

H.R.H. Prince Raad Bin Zeid……………………………………………….

Letters………………………………………………………………………………

Keith Beebe

Adnan Hadidi

John B. Hennessy

Thomas R. Pickering

Stuart Swiny

Joan M. Undeland

David K. Undeland

Publications of James A. Sauer

Prepared by Anthony M. Appa……………………………………………..

Essays……………………………………………………………………………………….

A New Look at Desert Kites………………………………………………………..

Alison V.G. Betts and Vadim N. Yagodin…………………………………...

Transjordan and Assyria

Piotr Bienkowski……………………………………………………………

An Iconographic Detail from Khirbet al-Mafjar: The Fruit-and-Knife Motif

Ghazi Bisheh……………………………………………………………..

Petrie's Pilaster Building at Tell el-Hesi

Jeffrey A. Blakely………………………………………………………….

The Problem of the Identification of the City on Ras Ibn Hani, Syria

Adnan Bounni……………………………………………………………….

The Distribution of Thirteenth- to Fifteenth-Century Glazed Wares in Transjordan: A Case Study from the Kerak Plateau

Robin M. Brown…………………………………………………………….

Investigating Ancient Ceramic Traditions on Both Sides of the Jordan

Douglas R. Clark and Gloria A. London…………………………………...

An Ostracon in Literary Hebrew from Horvat 'Uza

Frank Moore Cross…………………………………………………………

Nelson Glueck and the Other Half of the Holy Land

William G. Dever…………………………………………………………...

Social and Demographic Implications of Subadult Inhumations in the Ancient Near East

Bruno Frohlich and Donald J. Ortner……………………………………..

The Canine Conundrum of Ashkelon: A Classic Connection?

Baruch Halpern…………………………………………………………….

Nabatean Metallurgy: Foundry and Fraud

Philip C. Hammond………………………………………………………...

Roman Mummies Discovered at Bahria Oasis

Zahi Hawass………………………………………………………………..

The Settlement and Fortification of Tell al-'Umayri in Jordan during the LB/Iron I Transition

Larry G. Herr……………………………………………………………….

Excavating the First Pillar House at Lehun (Jordan)

Denyse Homès-Fredricq……………………………………………………

Old South Arabian Inscriptions in the Harvard Semitic Museum

John Huehnergard………………………………………………………….

Metallurgy in Oman during the Early Islamic Period

Moawiyah Ibrahim and Ali Tigani ElMahi…………………………………

Exploring the Great Temple at Petra: The Brown University Excavations, 1993-1996

Martha Sharp Joukowsky…………………………………………………..

A Unique PPNC Female Figurine from 'Ain Ghazal

Zeidan Kafafi……………………………………………………………….

Conceptual Domains, Competence, and Chaîne Opératoire in the Levantine Mousterian

Kristopher W. Kerry and Donald O. Henry………………………………..

New Nabatean Inscriptions from the 1996 Survey on the Umm el-Jimal Area

Nabil I. Khairy………………………………………………………….…..

Warfare in the Ancient Near East

Philip J. King……………………………………………………………….

Some Byzantine Pilgrim Flasks in the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Bible Lands Museum

Nancy L. Lapp……………………………………………………………...

A Corpus of Bone Carvings from the Excavation of the Esbous North Church ( Hesban, Jordan)

John I. Lawlor………………………………………………………………

Reflections on Archaeology and Development

C.J. Lenzen………………………………………………………………….

Why a Hedgehog?

Albert Leonard, Jr. …………………………………………………………

A Moabite Fortress on Wadi al-Hasa? A Reassessment of Khirbet al-Medeineh

Burton Macdonald………………………………………………………….

The North Wall of Aelia Capitolina

Jodie Magness………………………………………………………………

Prophecy and Poetry in Modern Yemen

George E. Mendenhall……………………………………………………...

Ceramics, Chronology, and Historical Reconstruction

Eric M. Meyers……………………………………………………………..

Burckhardt-Robinson Features in Nineteenth-Century Maps of the Kerak Plateau

J. Maxwell Miller…………………………………………………………...

The Defense of Palestine and Transjordan from Diocletian to Heraclius

S. Thomas Parker…………………………………………………………...

Proto-Urban Jericho: The Need for Reappraisal

Peter J. Parr………………………………………………………………...

Chronology versus Regionalism in the Early Bronze IV: An Assemblage of Whole and Restored Vessels from the Public Building at Khirbet Iskander

Suzanne Richard……………………………………………………………

Return to 'Ain el-Assad ( Lion Spring), 1996: Azarq Acheulian Occupation in situ

Gary O. Rollefson…………………………………………………………..

Environmental and Cultural Factors in the Development of Settlement in a Marginal, Highland Zone

Mitchell S. Rothman………………………………………………………..

Terminology and Typology of Carinated Vessels of the Early Bronze Age I-II of Palestine

R. Thomas Schaub………………………………………………………….

Chancel Screens from the West Church at Pella of the Decapolis

Robert Houston Smith……………………………………………………...

The Late Bronze Age in Northern Jordan in the Light of the Finds at Tell el-Fukhar

John Strange…………………………………………………………….….

Some Towers in Jordan

Henry O. Thompson………………………………………………………...

"Archaeology" of the Bible and Judaism in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Jeffrey H. Tigay……………………………………………………………..

Muhammad as Prophet and Mayor: City Planning from the Perspective of the Qur'an, Hadith, and Islamic Law Case Study: Damascus

Kassem Toueir……………………………………………………………...

Hesban, Amman, and Abbasid Archaeology in Jordan

Donald Whitcomb…………………………………………………………..

South Arabian Architecture and Its Relations with Egypt and Syria

Ernest Will………………………………………………………………….

Rectangular Profiled Rims from el-B_l_ ': Indicators of Moabite Occupations?

Udo Worschech……………………………………………………………..

Search Site

Search Library Collection