Courtesy of CIRSA, University of Rome

After a windy night, fresh sand covers one of the houses cleared by excavators—a small visual indication of the debris that had gradually covered Aghram Nadharif over the millennia. The citadel’s houses were built of sandstone blocks, with the interior walls lined with mud plaster. Within their houses, the ancient inhabitants dug pits for storing food; the excavators found the remains of dates in some pits. Curiously, however, these houses have yielded no personal items—no jewelry, tools or cooking utensils. This may suggest that the citadel was abandoned rather than conquered and destroyed. Either the inhabitants took their valuables with them when they left, or the abandoned site was later picked over by scavengers.