Residue Analysis as Evidence of Activity Areas and Phased Abandonment in a Medieval Jordanian Village
Keywords:residue analysis; phased abandonment; medieval Islamic food systems; underglaze-painted ware; stonepaste; fritware; Mamluk ceramics; Tall Ḥisbān; medieval Jordan, residue anslysis, phased abandonment, medieval Islamic food systems, underglaze-painted ware, stonepaste, fritware, Mamluk ceramics, Medieval Jordan
During the 2013 and 2014 excavation seasons, a cache of complete ceramic vessels was recovered from a stone-outlined pit sealed by domestic building collapse at the site of Tall ?isb?n, a Mamluk-era rural site in central Jordan. Among the finds were two whole, handless stonepaste jars of the late 14th century—an extremely rare find in Bil?d al-Sh?m—along with a small, handless handmade jar containing a gelatinous residue. Valuable not only for the stratigraphic association of a local coarse ware (of previously unclear chronology) with datable imports, the pit provides the opportunity to explore the realities of site abandonment in a rural setting and the communal experience associated with it. The following study presents the results of recent residue analysis of these jars, as interpreted by the unique conditions of the jars’ deposition and against the backdrop the emerging picture of the household economy of medieval ?isb?n, its food systems, and the fast rise and slow decline of the village in the 14th through the 16th centuries CE. In the process, this essay suggests ways in which rural communities in southern Syria were transformed on the eve of the Ottoman conquest.
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