University of Tennessee, Knoxville excavations at ‘Ayn Gharandal in southern Jordan have uncovered a late Roman/early Byzantine complex including a Roman fort, a bathhouse and an aqueduct system. The site, which was occupied between the third and sixth centuries C.E., contains a unique amount of writing, from charcoal wall-grafitti to the fort’s official painted dedication. The inscription in the military fort includes a list of Nabatean* names, suggesting that the Roman fort was manned by local forces.
The discovery of a Chi Rho symbol is even more telling of the cultural and religious orientation of the local population; this early Christian symbol is formed out of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ. University of Tennessee scholars Erin and Robert Darby have worked with epigrapher (and BAR author) Christopher Rollston** to futher investigate the uniquely prominent inscriptions discovered at ‘Ayn Gharandal.
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