Mar 12, 2014

Arabic Umyyad Inscriptions Found

This appears to be a part of a bowl. It has an Arabic inscription on the side which reads بسم الله, It translates as "By the name of Allah." This is part of the phrase recited before each sura (chapter) of the Qur'an. The Jordanian staff were able to read it even though the vowel pointings of the old script were not used. Several independent staff were shown the inscription and all read the same thing.

 Terry one of our workers was clarifying the wall (I have my foot on it) when I walked over to see how he was doing. I looked down and said "Terry do you know that you have an inscription on the wall?" He said "No I've been working so close to it that I didn't see it." There was a large stone covering part of it and there was some controversy over what it said. Therefore we decided to take out more of the soil to see what the inscription would reveal.

Here is the final inscription. Like the oil lamp, the stone to the right stated: "By the name of Allah." The stone to the left translates as "By his prophet Mohammed." This would date to the Umyyad period (638-750 AD) as the building and city of Livias were destroyed in the earthquake of 749 AD (see evidence for the date below) that took out many of the cities in the Jordan Valley including Khirbet Mefjer near Jericho, Pella, Capernaum, Sussita-Hippos, and Bet Shean-Scythopolis.

Tsafrir and Foerster document that in:
Bet Shean much evidence was found of the tremendous earthquake that destroyed the city. One of the best examples is an arcaded commercial street of the Byzantine and early Arab period, which collapsed completely. Underneath the debris of the shops many artifacts were discovered that confirm the dating of the collapse to the mid eighth century, among them pottery, glass and metal vessels, as well as balances, jewellery and coins. Not one of the coins found dates from later than the first half of the eighth century. Most significant is a hoard discovered in one of the shops which included, among other finds, 31 gold dinars. The earliest coin in this hoard is dated A.H. 78 (March 697-March 698 C.E.) and the latest was minted in A.H. 131 (31 August 748-19 August 749). This coin is the latest in date of those found hitherto under the ruins of the earthquake by the excavation. Its discovery supplies a clear terminus post quem for the earthquake no earlier than the end of August 748. Clearly this coin, which has survived in mint condition, had found its way into the hands of the trader a very short time before it was buried by the earthquake of 18 January in the year 749.
Tsafrir, Yoram, and Gideon Foerster. “The Dating of the ‘Earthquake of the Sabbatical Year’ of 749 C. E. in Palestine.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 55, no. 2 (1992): 231–235.

The conquest of the Byzantine empire took place at the Battle of Yarmouk between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate just north of us near the Yarmouk River in August 636. The Muslim presence at Livias was only 113 years but in that time they cut this inscription into the inside wall of the building designating their ownership of the bath complex.

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