The accompanying article describes many of the key finds made at ‘Umayri over the past dig seasons, particularly the two very impressive domestic buildings. Now let’s bring the picture up to date by looking at some of the important discoveries made just last summer. Field directors Larry Herr and Douglas Clark and administrative director Warren Trenchard point to four major finds made in 2000.

The excavators uncovered the remains of a large Late Bronze Age building dating to about 1350–1300 B.C.E. (photo at top). Located in its time at the highest point of the tell, the building still stands to a height of more than 10 feet; it originally had a second story made of mudbrick, which collapsed and covered the stone walls of the first story. “The high walls make the ‘Umayri building one of the best-preserved structures from its time anywhere in the Holy Land,” said Clark. The building’s location and height and the thickness of its walls (more than 3 feet) make it likely that it was a public building—perhaps a governor’s palace—rather than merely a home. The excavators dug down to floor level but were disappointed not to find any artifacts that could shed light on the structure’s purpose. They did, however, discover three pieces of Mycenaean pottery, indicating contact between ‘Umayri and places that traded with Greece.

The excavators also discovered nine earthen and plaster floors near a 5,000-year-old dolmen, a large stone burial monument, that they first uncovered in 1996 (photo above). The dolmen, which sits on the southeast slope of the tell, contained the remains of 20 individuals and 20 intact pottery vessels. The excavators believe the dolmen was used as a ceremonial burial place for several generations, perhaps over a span of 70 to 100 years. All the burials here were secondary—that is, the remains were first buried elsewhere, and after the body had decayed it was moved to the dolmen. Nomads may have brought their dead here during their seasonal migrations.

On the southwest side of the site, the excavators uncovered about 75 square feet of a plastered and cobbled area dating to the 11th to 10th centuries B.C.E. The area contained what may have been a cult stand for burning incense. The stand has two curious standing figures; they have masculine heads but also one breast each. Were these meant to depict hermaphrodites? Whatever the excavators learn from this stand will shed new light on the origins of Ammonite religion.

Lastly, the 2000 season uncovered a small farmstead from the late Hellenistic period (about 200–150 B.C.E.), an era not well documented in Jordan. The courtyard contained agricultural tools, lamps and juglets. The excavators believe the farmers here cultivated grapes on the nearby hillside for wine and grew grain in the valley.

The ‘Umayri team will devote the 2001 season to study and publication of past seasons; they will be back in the field in 2002.