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Ancient Tell Hisban

Excavations at Tall Hisban in the late sixties and early seventies uncovered nineteen superimposed strata at the site. The earliest and deepest of the strata excavated go back over three thousand years to the beginning of the Early Iron Age or the mid-thirteenth century BC. From this period the remains of a four meter deep defensive moat can be seen which served to protect the southern approach of this possibly Reubenite village from attackers. A defensive wall likely also surrounded the small cluster of dwellings concentrated inside it, but all that remains of it and the village houses are rough hewn stones, many of them having tumbled into the moat (1).

The fledgling agricultural village appears to have gradually prospered and grown throughout the Early Iron Age (circa 1250 - 900 BC). This is evidenced by the addition sometime during the tenth century BC of a massive water reservoir on the southern saddle of the mound.

The ascent of the powerful tribal kingdoms of Ammon and Moab in Jordan during the seventh and sixth centuries BC meant a new lease on life for Tell Hisban as well. A citadel of sorts likely existed on the summit and houses were clustered around it on the slopes of the tall. The large reservoir appears also to have been brought back into use. The site was probably controlled by the Ammonites, judging from the pottery and several ostraca from the period, and may have served as a way station or supply depot along the King's Highway.

The Late Iron Age town appears to have come to a sudden violent end sometime during the fifth century BC and was thereafter left in a state of abandonment for nearly three centuries. The evidence for this is the absence of any significant quantities of Late Persian and Early Hellenistic remains and the large quantities of ash in the debris scraped from the abandoned Late Iron Age town into the reservoir by later rebuilders in the second century BC ...

(1) Newsletter --- Volume 48 --Number 1 in the American Schools of Oriental Research

(2) Heshbon Expedition: the First Campaign at Tell Hesban by Roger Boras and Siegfried H. Horn et al (1968)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium