Monastic Traditions in Central Jordan: The Tall Ma’in Archaeological Survey
Debra Foran [+]
Wilfrid Laurier University
Archaeological investigations in central Jordan have revealed numerous settlements dating to the Byzantine period (4th to 8th centuries AD). The city of Madaba was an important urban center upon which many smaller settlements relied. Mount Nebo was the site of a large monastery that acted as the core of a monastic network that included both communal and ascetic monasteries. At the site of Maʽin, these two systems intersect in the form of a small ascetic monastery (the Church of al-Dayr) built on a hilltop adjacent to the Byzantine village. In 2006, the Tall Maʽin Archaeological Survey was initiated in order to elucidate the connection between these two groups. Results of two seasons of topographic and collection survey indicate that the highest concentration of Byzantine material is located on the areas of the tall closest to the monastery. This, coupled with the results of previous archaeological work at the site, suggest that the relationship between Maʽin’s lay and monastic communities allowed a reciprocal exchange of valuable resources. In addition, their mutual prosperity was ensured by the influx of pilgrims that is characteristic of central Jordan during the Byzantine period.