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Ghawr as-Safi Project 2011

Press Release

Archaeological works were conducted in the Ghawr as-Safi during December 2011 by the Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies (HSNES) in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DoAJ). The project was funded by Aramex LLC with support of the above-mentioned institutions and directed by Dr Konstantinos D. Politis.

Survey, excavations and conservation have been conducted at various areas in the Ghawr as-Safi since 2000. The overall objective has been to understand human settlement and land-use patterns in the region during the last 12,000 years. Particular emphasis has been given to agriculture as the mouth of the Wadi al-Hasa, where Ghawr as-Safi is located, is a soil-rich and well-watered place.

This season’s work concentrated on understanding the process of the sugar factory at Tawahin as-Sukkar (TeS). The eastern pressing room which was excavated and back-filled in 2004 (by HSNES) was re-exposed and restored according to the documentation. The western pressing room excavated in 2010 (by DoAJ) was also exposed but due to the lack of records clearing stopped at the level where the crushing and paving stones were exposed.

The vertical penstock on the south-western end of the complex was also cleared to the 2004 state. This construction was obviously later than the two pressing chambers and apparently channelling a more regular water flow for irrigation purposes.

A multi-chambered building with evidence of intense burning at the north-west side of the sugar factory excavated in 2010 (by DoAJ) was presumed to be the place where sugar cane juice was refined through boiling. Its associated ash dump on the north-eastern end of the site was excavated in 2004 (by HSNES) and sampled for botanical and phytolythic remains this season, disclosing evidence of sugar canes for the first time.

An initial study of other finds indicate a ca. 15th – 16th century squatting occupation in the disused sugar factory and a final phase in the early 20th century when adobe buildings were erected, probably associated with the Ottoman Army.

K. D. Politis, 12-2012