Sites & cities that bear the name of Tulul adh-Dhahab

Tulul adh-Dhahab

Today in : Jordan
First trace of activity : ca. 20th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 1st century B.C.E
Recorded names : Mahanaim?, Penuel?, Pniel?, Pnuel?, פְּנוּאֵל‎?, Telul edh Dhehab, تلول الذهب

Description : The Tulul adh-Dhahab (also: Tall / Telul edh Dhehab, Arabic: تلول الذهب), Jordan, are two adjacent tells in the Zarqa River valley, an affluent of the Jordan Valley about an hour's drive northwest of Jordan's capital city Amman. The western of the twin hills, known as Tell edh-Dhahab el-Gharbi, was populated at least from Bronze Age to Late Antiquity, and a beginning of settlement in the Neolithic period is also possible. After the collapse of the ancient buildings probably by an earthquake in Late Antiquity, there was no subsequent settlement on the site. Because of the unfortunate name ("hill of gold") there have been extensive recent disruptions. On the two highest terraces of the hill so far three settlement phases were detected archaeologically. (I) The earliest settlement dates from the period 1300 - 970 BC (14C data); previously no associated architectural remains were found, but layers and a wide variety of finds. At least one predecessor of the fortified wall that surrounds Terrace I and II is contemporary to this earliest phase. The carved lime rock ashlars that were embedded in the later architecture (II-III) as building material could originate from a cult or representative building of this earliest phase or a little later from the period 900-700 BC. The three largest and most interpretable fragments that were found so far show (a) the head of a decorated lion, (b) a woman or child with a goat, and (c) with a (a-b) stylistically similar illustration of two (seated?) beardless persons, each are holding an instrument in front of them that surmount their heads considerably, maybe a harp. - (II) So far only few sections on the top terrace showed foundations of buildings built in the period 375 - 175 BC. Most of these features were destroyed during the construction of the youngest phase. Additionally, some isolated charcoal fragments from the uppermost terrace have been C14-dated to 1960–1750 v. Chr. - (III) On the highest plateau a palatial building of approximately 30 x 30 meters was built with two adjacent peristyle courts, each about 15 x 15 meters in size and angled eastwards. The fragments of architecture of this palace are stylistically placed in the late Hellenistic period or the early years of Herod I. (73 - 4 BC), coins and 14C data corroborate this time approach. Detailed findings suggest that some of this architecture were two-story buildings. Besides limestone also mud bricks were used as building material. This palace ended with a fire event probably after about 50-25 BC, then the facility was vacated and not used again. Later most of the still standing architecture collapsed in an earthquake. - The top two terraces on the steep eastern and south slope were surrounded by a today about 0.5 - 1.5m high preserved wall, its original height is not known. At its inner line room like foundations are set. The layer and period relationship of these walls with the two successive palaces (II and III) could not be clarified yet. Furthermore, a Chalcolithic settlement lies at the southeastern foot of the western mound, Tell edh-Dhahab el-Gharbi, only slightly above the Jabbok River (Nahr az-Zarqa), but safely above the flood line. The discussion about the question with what ancient place Tulul adh-Dhahab could be identified is controversial. Sites mentioned in the Old Testament (Pnuël / Penuel, Mahanaim) or mentioned by the ancient historian Flavius Josephus (Amathous, Essa) are discussed.

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