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An ancient site 17.6 km W of Amman, consisting of a mound, now partly inhabited, with ancient buildings and other remains to the NW, W, and SW. To the NW of the mound is a steep cliff in which natural and artfficial caves were excavated. To the SW of the mound are remains of a large building known as Qasr el-Abd, “the fortress of the slave.” Between this building and the caves are remains of the so-called “square building,” and of a water conduit.

These ruins have long been identified by many scholars with the fortress of Tyrus, the capital of the land of the Tobiads, built at the beginning of the 2d c. B.C. by Hyrcanus who resided there between 187 and 175 (Joseph. AJ 12.233).

On the mound six occupation levels have been observed beginning with the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium B.C.). The Early Bronze Age is represented by scanty building remains. In the Iron Age I (11th c. B.C.) the settlement was surrounded by a wall. This probably is the Biblical Ramath-mizpeh, conquered by the Ammonites at the end of the century. The site was then abandoned until, as already noted, Tyrus of the Tobiads was built by Hyrcanus ca. 182 B.C. The dating of the different buildings of this phase is done mainly by pottery. During most of the 2d c. B.C. the site was abandoned but ca. 100 B.C. the settlement was surrounded by a casemate wall. This settlement was abandoned by the middle of the 1st c. A.D. At the end of this century the old buildings were reconstructed with minor changes. After the destruction of the settlement at the end of the 2d c. A.D. new traces of habitation were discovered. No building remains later than 200 A.D. were observed on the mound.

Of the buildings on the mound itself one is dated to ca. 175 B.C. The building (12.5 x 9 m) stood within an enclosure (18.5 x 18 m). The walls of the building were plastered white outside, white and pink inside.

To the SW of the mound, the so-called “square building,” was probably built at the beginning of the 2d c. B.C., when the Qasr el-Abd was built. Identified over the years as a fortress, palace, funerary monument, and temple, it is now generally agreed that it was a temple. Erected on a platform (30 x 15 m) it faces N-NW, and is approached by five monumental steps. Entrance to the building is gained through a porch distyle in antis. On all four corners of the basilica-like building staircase towers led onto a balcony which rested on attached half columns on the lateral walls and on two rows of columns. Two pairs of lions were set high up on the wall of the facade. The building contained a pronaos, naos and opisthodomos, thus complying with the ancient Canaanite-Syrian plan of temple.


H. C. Butler, Syria, II (1919) 1-22; P. W. Lapp, BASOR 165 (1962) 16-34; 171 (1963) 8-39; M.J.B. Brett, ibid., 39-45; D. K. Hill, ibid., 45-55.


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