Feb 16, 2012

Roman Tower

This is the view of the western tower that our Jordanian colleagues are excavating. They have found Roman pottery inside the tower and the two steps in the photo and top courses of tower are definitely Roman. This would indicate that the tower was rebuilt on top of the earlier Middle Bronze tower and used to protect the valuable water supply and hot springs in the area. This continues to support our argument that this area they are protecting is Livias.

4 comments:

Dr M said...

Perhaps it only served as a watchtower for the surrounding fields. There is no significant reason to believe it to be a defensive or military installation. Nothing in the construction or literature would suggest that the MB fortification would serve the same purpose in the Roman Period. Fews towns of Roman period Syria-Palestine had defensive fortifications; there was no need. Hellenism then the "pax Romana" erased the necessity. Roman fortifications in the Transjordan were likely limited to the Limes Arabicus and locations along the trade routes near water supplies (generally limitd to the desert areas). There is no enemy coming down or across the Jordan to threaten Livias.

Consider, instead, a watchtower for the fields or, perhaps even more likely, a duty station to monitor trade entering the city and collection taxes....

Dr. David E. Graves said...

Well it could have served simply as a watchtower but there were several documented Roman fortifications in the area.
Several large defensive fortifications are situated to the N and E of TeH. These include Tall el-Tahuneh (Figs 8, 17), Khirbet el-Habbasa (Fig. 18), Tall el-Barakat, Umm Hadher, Tall al-Matabi (Plateau Fort; TMP 754055E, 3526175N), and Roman Tower(s) on the acropolis of TeH (see Herodian Structures below, Waheeb 1997, 466–67). Prag observed that ‘strategically, therefore, they [Khirbet el-Habbasa and Tall el- Barakat] combine to make a coherent military control system for the rich agricultural area to the west, the area of Abila and Bethramtha/Livias’ (Prag and Barnes 1996, 59; see also Kennedy 2004, 123).
Waheeb, M. (1997) "Report on the excavations at Wadi al-Kufrayn southern Ghors (al-Aghwar)." Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 44, 463–68.
Prag K. and Barnes, H. (1996) Three fortresses on the Wadi Kafrain, Jordan. Levant 28, 41–61.
Kennedy, D. L. (2004) The Roman Army in Jordan. London: Council for British Research in the Levant.

Certainly they were watching over the agriculture of the plain but also protecting one of their most important resources water.

Dr M said...

From whom? Who is maraudering in during the Roman period? In the Jordan Valley? On the fringes you need military. In the centre of a highly populated region, unless there is a perceptible threat, you don't need military. You don't even station them except to barracks them somewhere near where they need to deploy. Prag is obviously incorrect in her assessment. The little fort up at el-Habbasa I visited, thinking form the aeriels it was a larger cavalry fortress. It originally dates from the Hellenistic period, a period of great political upheaval and disruption. The exact amount of Roman occupation is ucertain and minimal in the French report on the site. Why? Rome or her clients exerted strong control over the region and needed no major military forces to maintain that control. Livias was not surrounded by a defensive wall, nor were the other cities. I suppose the problem is when you say "fortification" I think "FORTRESS." Something significant. If you contend it was three fat guys watching for a signal to call out the gendarmes, that is something else :).....

Enjoy the final days! Sorry not to be with you harrassing you in person....

Dr. David E. Graves said...

Hi Dave, You are correct that watchtower is a better term than fortification.
However, to answer from whom?... it just might be the unhappy local citizens of Rome who after Herod died burned the city of Livias and Herod Antipas had to rebuild it. Not everyone enjoyed the Roman rule. There were similar lookout towers or safe houses along the Roman road to protect from thieves and bandits. I'm sure we agree and it is just a poor choice of words on my part.
Squares are closed for the season and now we wait and postulate for another year.....