The excavation of the Petra Garden and Pool Complex would not be possible without the contribution of the native residents of Petra — the Bedoul tribe — in addition to people from neighboring Beidha (Amreen tribe) and Wadi Musa. Those of us who are trained archaeologist and who travel from abroad to study this amazing and exotic site are perpetually informed and humbled by the local men and women who work alongside us. Their knowledge of Petra and expertise in archaeological skills that comes from lifetimes of working on excavations as well as a talent for mechanics and engineering that may well be inherited from their Nabataean forebears are valuable assets to any archaeological project. Also important is a sense of humor that is common characteristic of the Bedoul. Many lifelong friendships have originated in the excavation trenches in Petra.
After 3 1/2 weeks of excavating, the last few days on site are devoted to documenting all findings before we leave Petra. All architectural features that were uncovered during the season are mapped in stone-by-stone by our surveyor, Fawwaz Ishaqat, using GPS technology. Drawings of top plans, architectural profiles and baulks are completed by members of each trench team at a 1:20 scale. Numerous field forms are filled out with detailed notes on measurements, colors, soil textures, etc. Artifacts are described, drawn and photographed. The final photographs for each trench and the overall site are taken. This season, Dr. Bedal took more than 1,600 official photographs to add to the site’s archival and publication records.
The most common category of material culture uncovered in the excavation of the Petra Garden and Pool Complex is pottery. Complete ceramic vessels are rare finds, but pottery sherds are abundant. This season, our ceramics specialist, Pamela Koulianos, processed more than 23,000 pottery sherds(!) dating from the Early Roman/Nabataean through the Early Islamic periods. Each bucket of pottery — assigned to a specific context (locus) in the trench — was given a “reading” (summary of forms and dates). These readings provide an import framework for reconstructing the chronological sequence for the history of the site.
Jimmy Schryver continued to oversee the excavations in Pool SW to expose the pool’s western promenade. The careful cleaning of a complex accumulation of built and tumbled stones brought insight to the stratigraphic sequence that followed the decline of the monumental pool: squatters and robbing out of architectural elements, followed by a long period of abandonment, and the construction of a catch dam wall interspersed by two major earthquakes. A channel that was reused by later settlers, provides evidence for the Great Temple’s cistern as a source of water for the pool.
A new trench (TR. 26) was opened in the southeast corner of the pool complex this year in order to investigate its architectural and rock face features. Under the supervision of Alex Zarley, more than three meters of sand, soil, rubble and other debris was excavated to reveal the uppermost courses of a monumental wall that was built up against the rock face that is the backdrop for the pool. In the corner, the rock face was cut into a circular form that suggests a function for water containment – perhaps a cistern or nymphaeum.
The PGPC 2013 Lecture Series concluded with presentations by two scholars conducting groundbreaking research in Petra.
Dr. Christopher Tuttle (American Center of Oriental Research), topic: innovative efforts for conservation and presentation of the Temple of the Winged Lions (Visit the TWLCRM Facebook page)
Dr. Tom Paradise (University of Arkansas), topic: the geology of the Petra landscape and geoarchaeological evidence for a catastrophic flood in the 4th century.
The team of Trench 24, headed by John Rucker, is excavating out a cave (and associated architectural elements) located in the east boundary of the pool complex, below the east cistern, The cave was filled with dozens of collapsed wall stones, rubble, material culture, sand and silt strata that all had to be documented and removed by hand. The artifacts and architectural features are being studied to interpret the function of the cave within the site, and the chronological development of its use and abandonment.