Introduction

The original excavation of Area I, a residential area ~50 m due east of the Temple of the Winged Lions, was conducted by the American Expedition to Petra (AEP) under the supervision of Ken Russell and the direction of Philip C. Hammond between 1974 and 1978. Due to the untimely demise of Ken Russell and later death of Philip C. Hammond, the full results of this excavation were not fully published. Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017) re-examined ceramic assemblages and other material evidence from Area I and redated some of the earlier phasing.

Maps and Plans
Maps and Plans

  • Sketch Plan showing locations of AEP Excavation Areas from Russell (1980)
  • Plan of Area I and the Temple of the Winged Lions from Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)
  • Plan of Middle House showing location of Coin Hoard from Russell (1980)
  • Sites Affected by the 363 Earthquake from Russell (1980)

Chronology
Phasing from Hammond (1978)

In 1973 and 1974, Hammond (1975) excavated the Temple of the Winged Lions which he labeled as the Temple of Site II. The phasing of the Temple of the Winged Lions and the domestic complex in Area I ~50 meters east of the Temple of the Winged Lions were similar and apparently reconciled in Hammond (1978). Hammond (1978) described the preliminary phasing below as follows:

Although analysis has not been completed3, preliminary field phasing4, strongly suggests some 20 phases, with correlations to the earthquake chronology established at the Main Theater in 1961-1962 and the adjacent temple site (Areas II-III) during the course of the present excavations. Ceramic and numismatic markers within this framework currently tend to strengthen the chronological conclusions offered below.
Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017) re-evaluated the excavated materials from Area I and presented a revised chronology but not a table. This revised chronology affects the dating of supposed early 2nd century CE earthquake evidence and should likely apply to both the Temple of the Winged Lions and Area I near to the Temple of the Winged Lions.



Early 2nd Century CE Earthquake

Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)'s analysis suggests that, although early 2nd century CE earthquake evidence is present in Petra and other sites of the Nabateans, some of Russell (1985)'s phasing for Area I near the Temple of the Winged Lions was off by up to a couple of centuries. These conclusions should likely be equally applicable to the Temple of the Winged Lions. Some excerpts follow:

The conclusions to be presented here include a revision of the dating of the Early House in Area I and the ceramic assemblages uncovered its antechamber and the upper and lower levels of the structure to the late 2nd and early 3rd c. CE when the structure was abandoned. This revised dating is supported by evidence from other parts of the AEP excavations such as the Painters' Workshop and important find spots near the temple that are presented in this paper as well as material from other parts of the Provincia Arabia in the post-annexation period.
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The use of a revised ceramic chronology in dating these assemblages will undoubtedly prove to be controversial, however we believe that such a revision is long overdue and is in itself an important tool for the re-examination of the phasing of structures and occupational layers in Petra and other sites in the Provincia Arabia, the vast majority of which have been erroneously dated to the later 1st to early 2nd c. CE.
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In 1977, Russell prepared a tentative phasing of the stratigraphy in Area I. The final phasing prepared by him in 1978 indicates the presence of twenty archaeological phases (Phases XX—I) and the remains of successive domestic structures of the Early Roman (pre-annexation, i.e., the Roman annexation of Nabataea in 106 CE), Middle Roman (post-annexation) and Byzantine periods. He designated these structures the "Early House", the "Middle House", and the "Late House".
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The earliest archaeological material discovered in Area I, uncovered below the earliest architectural remains and in ancient falls, dates to the Hellenistic period. The latest material belongs to an overlying cemetery that Russell dated to the Late Byzantine or Early Islamic periods.
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As we shall see below, the abandonment of the Early House in Area I and abandoned hoards in rooms of the Temple of the Winged Lions complex were probably the result of an epidemic that occurred sometime in the 3rd c. rather than the early 2nd c. earthquake as claimed by Russell.
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EVIDENCE OF AN EARTHQUAKE EVENT IN THE EARLY SECOND CENTURY CE

Russell's misreading of the archaeological evidence led him to attribute the end of the occupation of the Early House in Phase XV to earthquake destruction that he dated to 113/114 CE based on the discovery of the single coin found in the antechamber, a brass sestertius commemorating Trajan's alimenta italiae endowment dated to the period between 103 and 117 CE, together with the hoard of unguentaria and other ceramic vessels (Russell, 1985:40-41). Although the Early House was not destroyed and abandoned by an earthquake in the early 2nd c., evidence of earthquake damage is discernible with the renovations that took place in its final occupation in Phase XVI.
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Subsequent research carried out in several sites64, including Petra itself, indicate that an early 2nd c. earthquake did indeed take place (Erickson-Gini 2010:47) 65. An examination of the records and photographs of the western side of the Temple of the Winged Lions complex also reveals evidence of earthquake damage that precedes that of the 363 CE earthquake. This evidence includes the blockage of doorways with architectural fragments that appear to have been derived from the temple, for instance in Area III.8 (SU 113; W2; Aug. 2, 1977), that were also used in the construction of the pavement in WII.1W. Revetments adding support to walls were photographed in Area III.7 (AEP 83900). In addition, a hoard of vessels of the late 1st c. BCE and first half of the 1st c. CE was discovered in the AEP 2000 season in a spot next to the eastern corridor in Area III.10 (SU 19). This assemblage of restorable vessels included several plain fineware, carinated bowls that correspond to later forms of Schmid's Gruppe 5 dated to the second half of the 1st c. BCE (2000 AEP RI. 41), (2000: Abb. 41) together with early forms of his Gruppe 6 dated to the 1st c. CE (2000 AEP RI. 11), (2000: Abb. 50) and two early painted ware bowls (2000 AEP RI. 42) corresponding to Schmid's Dekorgruppe 2a (2000: Abbs. 80=81) dated to the end of the 1st c. BCE and early 1st c. CE.66 In spite of the presence of these early vessels, the AEP 2000 season finds registries records nearly all of them as dating to 363 CE.
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Russell was correct in dating the early form of the Early House (Phase XVII) to the 1st c. ceramic vessels of that period
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The Early House was obviously renovated, prior to its final form in Phase XVI, similar to other buildings discovered in Petra. Some Nabataean communities, such as Mampsis and Oboda, underwent a wave of new construction in the newly-organized Roman Province of Arabia while sites such as 'En Rahel and 'En Yotvata were destroyed and never re-built. Renovations in wake of structural damage evident in structures in many sites in the years following the annexation, as well as the construction of new buildings, point to a widespread earthquake event in southern Transjordan and the Negev in the early 2nd c. CE. The event may have influenced or even prompted the Roman annexation that occurred soon afterwards. At Petra, the Early House was not destroyed at that time but rather it was renovated and occupied until the early 3rd c. when it was abandoned, possibly in the wake of an epidemic.
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Conclusions

The primary issue concerning the Early House is the date and manner of its abandonment. An outstanding difficulty in Russell's phasing in Area I is the two hundred year period between the renovations that supposedly took place in the Early House in the early 2nd c. CE (Phase XVI) and the construction of the Middle House in the early 4th c. CE (Phase XII). This gap in the archaeological record is largely artificial and can be attributed to the fact that a single coin was used to date the critical ceramic assemblage found in Room 2 (antechamber) of the Early House (SU 176, 800, 803) to the very beginning of the 2nd c. Rather than its destruction by earthquake in the early 2nd c., the body of evidence points to its abandonment sometime in the early 3rd c. similar to sites along the Petra—Gaza road.
Footnotes

64 Evidence of an earthquake at Petra in the late first or early 2nd c. CE has been uncovered by

  • Kirkbride and Parr at Petra (Kirkbride 1960: 118-19; Parr 1960: 129
  • Joukowsky and Basile 2001: 50) and more recently in the ez-Zantur excavations Kolb and Keller 2002: 286; Grawehr 2007: 399)
Evidence of the event has also been uncovered in sites in the surrounding region at:
  • Aqaba (Dolinka 2003: 30-32, Fig. 14)
  • 'En Yotvata (Erickson-Gini 2012a)
  • Moyat 'Awad and Shdar Ramon (Cohen 1982: 243-44; Erickson-Gini and Israel 2013: 45)
  • 'En Rahel (Korjenkov and Erickson-Gini 2003)
  • Mezad Mahmal (Erickson-Gini 2011)
  • Mampsis (Negev 1971: 166; Erickson-Gini 2010: 47)
  • Oboda (Erickson-Gini, in press)
  • Horvat Hazaza (Erickson-Gini, in press).
However, with regard to Khirbet Tannur, in light of the final publication and re-evaluation of Nelson Glueck's excavation by J.S. McKenzie et. al. (2013), his claim that Altar 3 was built in wake of earthquake damage of the early 2nd c. (termed the 113-114 CE earthquake) appears to be untenable due to the re-dating of Period 2 at the site to the first half of the 2nd c. CE (Mckenzie 2013: 137).

65 The occurrence of an early 2nd c. earthquake has been disputed by S.G. Schmid who proposed that destruction contexts indicated in Nabataean sites were the result of Roman military actions in wake of the annexation of Nabataea in 106 CE (1997: 418-420).

66 A lamp in found in close proximity in SU 18 (2000 AEP RI.23) corresponds to Grawhr's Typ 3.D (75-125 CE), (2006: 293). A complete unguentarium of a type with a flat base like that found in the Nabataean fort at 'En Rahel was also present in SU 19 (2000 AEP RI.44).

363 CE Earthquake

During the seasons of 1975-1977, Hammond (1978) excavated at a location north of the Cardo Maximus and encountered some chronologically precise archeoseismic evidence for the Cyril Quake(s). Ken Russell served as one of two supervisors on these excavations and provided a detailed account of the archeoseismic evidence encountered in his article from 1980. In the 1976 and 1977 seasons at what was termed the "middle house" structure of Area I, Russell (1980) reports the discovery of a destruction layer containing numerous domestic articles such as lamps, shattered ceramics and glass, spindle whorls, and coins. In Room II, a hoard of 85 bronze coins was discovered of which 45 were identifiable. All 45 identifiable coins were minted during the reign of Constantius II who ruled from 337-361 AD. Further, 40 of these 45 coins were identified as being minted after 354 AD. This coin evidence provided a terminus post quem - i.e. the earliest possible date of destruction was between 354 and 361 AD. This points to the southern Cyril Quake as the probable cause of the destruction layer in the "middle room" in Petra.

6th century CE Earthquake

Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017) discussed a lack of evdience for a 6th century CE earthquake.

POST SCRIPT - THE LATEST PHASE IN AREA I AND THE EARTHQUAKE OF 551

With regard to the fate of the latest phase of occupation in Area I (the Upper or Later House), Russell and Hammond's supposition of destruction in both Areas I and II as result of the 551 CE earthquake is not supported by subsequent archaeological in Petra nor is it supported by the material evidence found in their excavations. As noted above, Russell's initial phasing did not include this event, but he does refer to it in a 1990 report to ACOR on the Household Excavations. Hammond and Johnson (2000) later published the supposed 551 earthquake in their phasing of the Temple of the Winged Lions. In spite of this, the finds from the Later House do not include vessels or coins of the 6th c. CE and findings from the Petra Church excavations do not support the occurrence of an earthquake event in that period. A 551 earthquake event is also elusive with regard to the temple in Area II. Hammond and John-son provide a list of coins discovered there, the latest of which dates to Constantius II (337-361 CE), (2000).
Jones (2021) added:
Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017: 144-45) note the lack of 6th century material at both the Temple of the Winged Lions and the residential complex in nearby Area I, although this may simply indicate that the area was abandoned prior to its destruction in the late 6th century.

Seismic Effects
Early 2nd Century CE Earthquake

  • blockage of doorways with architectural fragments that appear to have been derived from the temple, for instance in Area III.8 (SU 113; W2; Aug. 2, 1977, that were also used in the construction of the pavement in WII.1W - Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)
  • Revetments adding support to walls were photographed in Area III.7 (AEP 83900) - Erickson-Gini and Tuttle (2017)

363 CE Earthquake

  • collapsed house (area I near the Temple of the Winged Lions) - Russell (1985)

Intensity Estimates
Early 2nd century CE Earthquake

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Displaced Walls architectural fragments that appear to have been derived from the temple Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) Area I VII +
Tilted Walls Revetments adding support to walls Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) Area I VI +
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VII (7) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

363 CE Earthquake

Effect Description Source Location Intensity
Collapsed Walls collapsed house Russell (1985) Area I VIII+
The archeoseismic evidence requires a minimum Intensity of VIII (8) when using the Earthquake Archeological Effects chart of Rodríguez-Pascua et al (2013: 221-224).

Notes and Further Reading
References
Russell (1985)'s chronology for the Incense Road Quake

Russell (1985) noted that during the 1976 excavations at Petra, a brass coin (sestertius) commemorating Trajan's alimenta italiae endowment was uncovered on a floor-slab next to several crushed unguentaria in a storage room of a collapsed house [in Area I according to Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017)] of the early 2nd century. Russell (1985) relates that Sestertii of this type were minted between 103 and 117 ( Robertson 1971: 57-59, and pl. 13, nos. 344, 350, 354). Unfortunately, the consulship was illegible in the obverse inscription which would have allowed for more precise dating. Coins of the last Nabataean king, Rabbel II (71- 106), have been noted in association with this destruction evidence at Petra (Kirkbride, 1960:118-119; Parr 1960: 129).

Russell (1985)'s incorrect chronology for the 551 CE Beirut Quake

Although Russell (1985) attributed mid 6th century destruction of Petra to the 551 CE Beirut Quake, subsequent work refutes this almost entirely. Rucker and Niemi (2010) wrote the following:

Russell (1985:45) wrote "Petra, the capital of Palestina tertia, was never rebuilt after the 551 C.E. earthquake, and by the end of the sixth century C.E., its ruins had become a quarry for liming and smelting operations." However, recent excavations at the Petra Church archaeological site refute these conclusions (Fiema (2001a:6-137), Fiema (2001b:138-150)). Scrolls found in the Petra Church provide an unprecedented record of Late Byzantine Petra (Fiema (2002:1-4)). The church was destroyed in a fire at the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century C.E. The fire carbonized papyrus scrolls that were being stored in the church. These scrolls known as the Petra Papyri, are a collection of documents predominantly relating to taxes and property ownership, dating from 537 C.E. to at least 11 April 593 C.E., and may postdate this range by several years. Therefore, the last recorded date of the Petra papyri scrolls may extend to 597 C.E. "Neither the effects of the earthquake of 551 C.E. nor the mid-sixth century C.E. plague can be discerned from the texts" of the scrolls (Fiema (2002:4)). After the fire and into the seventh century C.E., the church ceased to function as an ecclesiastical structure, building materials were salvaged for reuse, and the shell of the structure was converted to a domestic complex. Fiema (2001a:6-137) and Fiema (2001b:138-150) noted evidence for two earthquakes in the later phases of the Petra Church — one in the seventh century C.E. and one in the medieval to Ottoman period — at which time no columns remained standing. As recounted already, excavations in the 1990s at the Petra Church and textual evidence from the newly translated Petra Papyri have convincingly demonstrated that the city of Petra was not apparently appreciably affected by the 551 C.E. earthquake. Unfortunately, some excavators still designate a 551 C.E. earthquake in the sfiatigraphic sequence at Petra.
Erickson-Gini, T. and C. Tuttle (2017) re-examined excavations undertaken by Russell and Hammond near the Temple of the Winged Lions and also found that evidence supporting seismic destruction due to the 551 CE Beirut earthquake was lacking.
THE LATEST PHASE IN AREA I AND THE EARTHQUAKE OF 551

With regard to the fate of the latest phase of occupation in Area I (the Upper or Later House), Russell and Hammond's supposition of destruction in both Areas I and II as result of the 551 CE earthquake is not supported by subsequent archaeological in Petra nor is it supported by the material evidence found in their excavations. As noted above, Russell's initial phasing did not include this event, but he does refer to it in a 1990 report to ACOR on the Household Excavations. Hammond and Johnson (2000) later published the supposed 551 earthquake in their phasing of the Temple of the Winged Lions. In spite of this, the finds from the Later House do not include vessels or coins of the 6th c. CE and findings from the Petra Church excavations do not support the occurrence of an earthquake event in that period.73 A 551 earthquake event is also elusive with regard to the temple in Area II. Hammond and Johnson provide a list of coins discovered there, the latest of which dates to Constantius II (337-361 CE), (2000).

Footnotes

73 Russell discovered the Petra Church in the vicinity of Area I and was to have conducted its excavation before his untimely death in 1992.
With an epicenter close to Beirut, it is unlikely that the 551 CE Beirut Quake would have caused significant damage in Petra. Further, as noted by Ambraseys (2009), none of the many sources for this well documented earthquake mention damage in Jerusalem which was ~120 km. closer to the epicenter. One of the sources (The Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain - see Textual Evidence section for the 551 CE Beirut Quake) states that damage for this earthquake was limited south of Tyre. This makes the Inscription at Areopolis Quake a more seismically plausible candidate for any 6th century CE seismic destruction discovered in Petra.