Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Four Room House

August 1 – Wednesday

Early on in the excavation of Tall al-Umayri a series of 4 houses from the transitional period between the late Bronze Age and early Iron 1, around 1200 BC were discovered and were fully exposed for study.  They are remarkable both in their degree of preservation and in the trove of treasures found in them.  One house in particular has been referred to as the 4 room house because of its architectural design which is typical of many house structures found in other sites in Jordan and the west bank.  However this particular house at Umayri is one of the best preserved anywhere and has provided information that has shed much light on the details of everyday life in a village such as this.  In one of the rooms there were a great many ceramic items such as jugs and bowls and also 75 large storage jars called pithoi which were used to store food items such as barley and wheat.  Four skeletons were found in the house along with evidence of an abrupt destruction associated with burned wooden beams as the house collapsed.  There was space on the lower level for work areas and for keeping small animals, sheep and goats, and the humans lived on a second floor level.  This 4 room house has brought Umayri a great deal of attention among archeologists working in the Near East.

The Four Room House - the man standing on top is actually on the floor of the upper level, and there would have been a roof over that. 

Dr Clark telling about the construction of the Four Room House

Some of the team members attentively listening to Dr Clark.  Notice the Bedouin tent in the background that provides shade while we have our second breakfast.

Last evening Dr Clark took the team back to the dig and into the 4 room house where he held a discussion about its history and what the life of its inhabitants must have been like.  My team is working on clearing out the debris to clearly display the details of the last of these 4 houses.  But it was the special 4 room house that drew our attention last evening.  Dr Clark pointed out some of the details of its construction and what was found in the house and then led a freewheeling discussion, made all the more memorable because it was held in the actual structure in which a family lived 3200 years ago.  We could hear the noises – bleating of the sheep and goats, hammering of stone on stone in the making of flint tools, and laughter of children.  We could imagine getting smoke in our eyes from the cooking of food and when we looked in the backroom there would be rows and rows of food storage jars.  The smells would have overwhelmed us – not only from the animals and their manure, but also from the humans and their sanitation or lack of it.  Water was available at a spring nearby at the base of the Tall, and would have had to be carried in jugs up the hill to the house.   Here are several photos of the house.  None of the wall has been reconstructed – they are preserved as they were found.  However the wooden beams have been replaced with a covering roof to show the two levels of the house.

Two large storage jars about 4 feet tall, called pithoi,  found this week during excavation
of another building 

1 comment:

  1. Those were very intresting discoveries. Looks like the the dig is becoming more and more fascinating the deeper you go! I was particularly intersted in the oil lamp as I have a collection of oil lamps!

    I shared your blog with others who might be interested.




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