HOME / Table of Contents = Civilizations - Cultures - Areas - Regions - Prehistory
Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)

Ancient Amman (Rabbath Ammon)


Amman Triumphal Arch by Gertrude Bell taken April 1900 and in Syria: the Desert & the Sown First Published 1907

City and capital of Jordan on the Jabbok River 48 miles ENE of Jerusalem.

The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is a Neolithic site located on the outskirts of Amman known as Ain Ghazal. It is one of the largest early villages known in the Near East ...

Amman’s focus of settlement throughout history has been the small high triangular plateau (modern Jabal Al-Qalʿah) just north of the wadi. Fortified settlements have existed there since remote antiquity; the earliest remains are of the Chalcolithic Age (circa 4000–3000 bce).

Amman derives its name from the 13th century BC when the Ammonites, a Semitic people frequently mentioned in the Bible named it "Rabbath Ammon" with the term Rabbath meaning the "Capital" or the "King's Quarters".

During this time it was engaged in a struggle with the Israelites that ended when King David captured the city circa 1010 BC. The “royal city” taken by King David’s general Joab (II Samuel 12:26) was probably the acropolis atop the plateau. The population of the Ammonite cities was much reduced under King David.

Amman declined in later centuries. In the 3rd century bce it was conquered by Egypt’s King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (reigned 285–246 bce) and he renamed it Philadelphia after himself; the name was retained through Byzantine and Roman times. Philadelphia was a city of the Decapolis, a Hellenistic league of the 1st century bce–2nd century ce. In ce 106 it was included in the Roman province of Arabia and rebuilt by the Romans; some fine ruins of their rule in this period have survived. With the coming of Christianity it became a bishopric among the sees of Palestina Tertia subject to Bostra. At the rise of Islam Amman was taken by the Arab general Yazīd ibn Abī Sufyān in ce 635; by about 1300 it had entirely disappeared [until recently] from causes unknown to historians. Amman’s "modern" history began in the late 19th century when it was resettled by Circassians of the Shapsough tribe in 1878.

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium