Excavation Work

The short and small-scale excavations in Area C aimed to rescue sepulchral findings of 2019 and clarifying the building construction in CR28.2. It was confirmed that one of the rooms in Area C was a sepulchral territory for a longer time. The earliest burials were dug through the most ancient plaster floor. So far, at least three, possibly four phases for this continuous burial were documented. Such a territorial “fixation” to and repeated deposition of human corpses and/ or isolated bones in one space has been unknown in this form from Ba`ja so far.

Fig. 3 In situ remains of a juvenile burial with in situ parts of a necklace made from very diverse kinds of shell and minerals beads. (Photo: M. Benz, Ba`ja N.P.) 

Fig. 4 Rooms CR28.1-3 with rapidly deposited Room Fill CR28.2:105 (quake debris), newly exposed part of Floor CR28.2:114 and Wall CR28.2:126 etc. with Wall Openings CR.28.2: 127 and 131. (Photo: H.G.K. Gebel, Ba`ja N.P.)

In the eastern part of this room, oblique slabs were found which possibly once covered one of the most ancient burials in this room. The slabs had slipped into the burial pit and were thus leaning obliquely on the western border of the pit. The eastern border was obscured by a more recent wall. Right to the east of these slabs, several isolated human bones and at least one subadult and one juvenile beneath an adult, possibly female, individual were uncovered. The bones of all individuals were poorly preserved. Unfortunately, it was impossible to excavate them completely because the above-mentioned eastern wall covers them partly. The juvenile  individual wore a necklace of diverse beads and pendants which were uncovered in situ (Fig. 3). Some of the bead and pendant types are unique and have so far no parallels, neither at Ba`ja nor in the Greater Petra Area. Right to the north of the skeleton, the skull of a subadult individual was found. Whether this skull belongs to the juvenile individual or represents the skull of a third subadult could not be identified in the field unambiguously. Further human bones were identified beneath the stone slabs. A hump uncovered in 2019 and which was supposed to be the cover of a burial turned out to be a deliberately constructed elevation in the floor, yet without anything beneath except the paleosol.


Excavations in Room CR28.2 revealed a larger room (Fig. 5) of the site’s first building phase, bordered in the E by Wall Loc. CR28:2:126 with two (!) wall openings and a two-phase plaster floor (Loc. CR28.2:114); a typical stone cover for a grave was found on the floor but without a burial beneath. The floor itself was found clean and free from activity evidence. The room fill of CR28.2 (Loc. CR28.2:105) allows a proper description of an exclusively anthropogenic and rapid room fill for the first time. It comprised wall rubble of all kinds without any other cultural debris except ground stone fragments. Presumably this fill relates to clearances following an earthquake, or to a larger revision of groundplans in and around Area C20. Room CR28.2 appears special for possibly having served as a large distributor room in the earliest building phase, connecting rooms in the W and E. One of the windows opens into a newly found neighbouring Room CR28.3, which gives testimony of a very small space. Another (obliterated) window opening in the southern wall of this room confirms its function as a distributor room.