Results Of The Archaeological Survey Of The Ghor In Search for The Cities Of The Plain -- By: Melvin Grove Kyle

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 081:323 (Jul 1924)
Article: Results Of The Archaeological Survey Of The Ghor In Search for The Cities Of The Plain
Author: Melvin Grove Kyle


Results Of The Archaeological Survey Of The Ghor In Search for The Cities Of The Plain

M. G. Kyle

W. F. Albright, Ph.D.

Having reached the Plain by the long journey through eastern Moab as described in the introductory narrative, we proceeded at once to a most thorough search of the traditional sites and any other ruins found, of the water courses and the oases they make possible, of the evidences of the catastrophe, of the changes in Sea level, and especially of the various civilizations that have existed on the Plain as evidenced by the pottery remains.

I. Searching the Ghor

In our researches we covered the southern Ghor very thoroughly from Ghor el-Haditheh at the upper end of the Lisan southward through Ghor el-Mezra’ah, Ghor el-Mureisid, Ghor’Esal, Ghor en-Numeirah, Ghor es-Safi, to Ghor el-Feifa at the southern end of the Plain. In Ghor es-Safi and Ghor el-Feifa we found extensive remains of the early Arabic period, when this region enjoyed the height of its prosperity in the later civilization of the Plain. This prosperity seems to have been due to the importation of Negro slaves, in order to cultivate the plantations of sugar cane and indigo. From a mixture of these slaves the Ghawarneh Bedouin now, in that neighborhood, are descended. There are still Negroes among them and much evidence of Negro blood.

One most important result here was the identification of the ruins Khirbet Sheik ‘Isa and Qasr et-Tubah as the Byzantine and early Arabic Zoar, as already suggested by the geologist Blanckenkorn. The identification is first established by the literary references in Byzantine and Arabic sources, according to which Zoara, or Zughar, lay at the southeastern corner of the Dead Sea, and is then authenticated by the pottery remains of these ruins. Ow-

ing to the excavations for house foundations and for building stone by the Ghawarneh several inscriptions in Greek and probably Kufic, as well as coins from the Byzantine and Arabic periods, have been found. Many sandstone blocks and fragments of pillars, capitals, pilasters, lintels, and other architectural evidence, some bearing crosses, also appear. The pottery is all Byzantine and early Arabic. In the Ghor el-Mezra’ah on the Lisan we found the same evidences of Arabic occupation in the middle ages—ruined towns and villages, ruined sugar mills and other evidences of occupation. We visited the ruined monastery of the Lisan, called el-Geryeh by Musil and established its Byzantine date.

To make sure that the evidence of the depth of debris and character of the surface finds, especially the pottery, did not mislead us, at the Khirbet Sheik ‘Isa, the traditional site of...

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