Jordanian Inscriptions Indicate Local Christian Military Population
Bible and archaeology news
October 29, 2012
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.
* For more on the Nabateans, see Joey Corbett, “Solving the Enigma of Petra and the Nabataeans.”
** To read about some of Christopher Rollston’s works in Bible History Daily, see The Oldest Hebrew Script and Language in Bible History Daily.
BAS Library Members: Read Rollston, Christopher A. “What’s the Oldest Hebrew Inscription?” as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review, May/Jun 2012, 32-40, 66, 68.