11 High above the sprawling modern city of Amman, Jordan, sits Jebel al-Qal’a—the site of the ancient, and often sacred, Citadel of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Greco-Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic civilizations.

“Rabbath of the Ammonites”

Rabbath Ammon it was called in ancient times, a place-name we might translate as the Ammonite Heights. During the Iron Age, it was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon, rival of the biblical Israelites. The remains of the ancient Ammonite acropolis are perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the bustling capital of modern […]

Philadelphia of the Decapolis

In the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283–246 B.C.), Rabbath Ammon was renamed Philadelphia. Despite the name change, the city’s inhabitants remained largely Semitic and probably were never extensively Hellenized. When Arab Muslims conquered the region of present-day Jordan in 634, they called the city by the name local peoples used: Amman, the modern […]

Plundering Iraq
Should looted antiquities be returned to rogue states?

In this interview with Archaeology Odyssey editor Hershel Shanks, John Malcolm Russell of the Massachusetts College of Art—an expert on the looting of Iraq and author of The Final Sack of Nineveh: The Discovery, Documentation and Destruction of King Sennacherib’s Throne Room at Nineveh, Iraq (Yale, 1998)—describes the damage suffered at the Assyrian King […]

Sea Monsters and Other Ancient Beasts
A tale from a Grecian urn By Adrienne Mayor

A strange, grim, menacing creature lurks on one of the ancient Greek vases in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The scene painted on this vase—a Corinthian black-figure krater dating to between 560 and 540 B.C.—is known to art historians as the oldest illustration of the ancient legend of the Monster of […]


Editors’ Page: Images that Offend
Between Scylla and Charybdis By Hershel Shanks
Past Perfect: Into the Afterlife
Egyptologist George Reisner solves a Nubian mystery
Destinations: Sailing the Wine-dark Seas
Crete’s great Minoan civilization By Joan G. Scheuer
Ancient Life: Shooting the Moon
Gaga over games in Greece and Rome
The Forum
Making the most of an obsession with the obscene