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Ancient Ammonites

Updated April 11th 2019

See: The Material Civilization of the Ammonites (JSTOR)
George Landes -- Biblical Archaeologist 1961:24:3:65-86

See: What Ever Happened to the Ammonites? by Larry G. Herr
in the Biblical Archaeology Review 19:6 -- November/December 1993

The ancient Biblical Kingdom of the Ammonites in Palestine was east of the River Jordan and North of Moab. The kingdom flourished from the 13th century BC to the eighth century AD. The Semitic Ammonites took their name from their presumed ancestor -- Ben Ammi -- son of Lot and citizen of the biblical city of Sodom (Genesis 19:29-38). They warred frequently with the Hebrews and the Ammonite King Nahash -- who had a reputation for cruelty -- was defeated by the first Hebrew King Saul. His successor David (reigned circa 1010 to 972 BC) succeeded in capturing their capital Rabbath Ammon (Amman). The war -- among other things -- was over control of north-south trade routes east of the Jordan River. The Ammonites regained independence after Solomon succeeded David as King of the Hebrews in 972 BC. Ammon was absorbed by the Arabs in the eighth century AD. Excavations in Jordan have revealed a highly developed civilization. One of their chief gods was Milcom ... (AHSFC)



For Bibliography Download PDF File Pages 23-29

Introduction: The Ammonites, known from both biblical and extra-biblical sources, were an ancient people who inhabited the northern Central Trans-Jordanian plateau (located in the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) from the latter part of the second millennium B.C. until the middle of the first millennium B.C. Their country was known as Ammon, while their capital was called Rabbath-Ammon, or simply Ammon. They are best known for their numerous encounters with the biblical Israelites. However, they are also important because their territory was astride the major caravan routes that connected Arabia with the major cultural centers of the Fertile Crescent. Occasional references to the Ammonites, therefore, also appear in the ancient records of these early empires.

Modern research in Ammon began in the early part of this century just prior to World War I and has continued up to the present. Because scholarly attention has tended to focus on Ammon's neighbors to the west Israel and Judah, there has been little attempt to systematically either summarize or utilize the results of the numerous surveys and excavations that have been conducted in Transjordan during the last 90 years.

Nelson Glueck Survey: The first major survey in this region was that of Nelson Glueck, an American rabbi and scholar, who included this region in his general survey of Transjordan conducted between 1932 and 1947. His survey of Ammon proper was undertaken during the summer of 1937 during which he documented at least 149 sites within or along the edges of the ancient Ammonite borders (1939: 151-251).

Two of the most significant results of Glueck's research were his claims that the Ammon region was unoccupied between circa 1900-1300 B.C. and that the Ammonites had constructed a line of forts (the so-called "megalithic towers" or rujm unique to the Ammonites) along their borders as early as the 13th century B.C.


Models for Canaan's Social Dynamics During the LB I A - I B

For Bibliography Download PDF File Pages 209-218

There seems to be a general agreement that a most significant social transformation occurred in Palestine (both Cis- and Transjordan) between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. The former saw the collapse of the Canaanite city-states while the latter witnessed the rise of the Iron Age politics of Israel -- Edom -- Moab and Ammon ... The archaeological settlement record suggests that the highlands of Palestine (both Cis- and Transjordan) witnessed a transformation from a nonsedentary, pastoral society to, first, one of small agricultural villages, and finally, to a three-tier settlement hierarchy of cities, towns and villages. The latter was embedded within and supported the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel -- Edom -- Moab and Ammon.

Settlement Archaeology of Early Ammon

Late Bronze Age: I B - II A Settlement Pattern --- Nomadization

So far archaeologists have been unable to isolate very many sites dating specifically to the LB I B or the LB II A in Ammon (Younker 1997; Table 9.1). In some cases this may be because the ceramic forms that have been found happen to be those which run throughout the entire Late Bronze period (see McGovern 1986). In other cases, the necessary analysis or publication has not yet been undertaken. Nevertheless, the quantity of LB I B - II A material that has been recovered from Ammon is not very great. Indeed, there have not yet been found any settlement sites (cities -- towns -- villages) that can actually be dated to either LB I B or II A in Ammon, suggesting not only a decline of the already sparse sedentary occupation from LB I A (above) but a virtual reversion to [a] nonsedentary occupation end of the settlement-continuum (sic) not seen since the EB IV.

While there does not seem to be indication of any settlements in Ammon during the LB IB - IIA, there is evidence that people were living in the area. This evidence comes in the form of a unique rectangular structure found at Umm ad-Dananir (McGovern 1989: 128-36) and three burial caves which were found in the nearby Bekaa Valley.

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