Educated in Greece, the United States, Belgium, and Britain, archaeologist Konstantinos Politis is Chairperson of the Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies. From 1988 until 2011 he was based at the British Museum which was the principal sponsor of his excavations in Jordan. He specializes in the early Byzantine and early Islamic periods. In recent years, Dr. Politis has been conducting research on the origins of the sugar industry, based largely on his ongoing excavations at the medieval sugar mill site of Tawahin al-Sukr in Jordan’s Ghor es-Safi.
February Bible & Archaeology Fest 2024
Nabataeans on the shores of the Dead Sea
The Nabataean Arab people inhabited a vast expanse in what is now southern Jordan, northern Arabia, the Negev and Sinai over 2,000 years ago. At its greatest extent their kingdom even controlled the Hauran of southern Syria and up to the great oasis of Damascus. Key to their success was trade, prominently controlling the Arabian frankincense routes but also capitalising on the exploitation of the special natural resources of the Dead Sea: salt, bitumen, sulphur and balsam.
Although still not fully studied and understood, the Nabataeans were a peaceful Semitic-speaking nation that flourished by trading with its neighbours, particularly the Graeco-Roman World. The latter was responsible for their considerable prosperity but also for influencing its culture on virtually every aspect. And yet, evidence can be traced to their distinct ethnicity even during the ensuing Byzantine period.
Monumental funerary architecture is now well-known from Nabataean sites such as Petra and Meda’in Saleh, but less is familiar from ordinary peoples’ graves. Recently, such sites have been discovered on the shores of the Dead Sea and some excavated, which reveal what life was like for the average Nabataean. Ancient texts refer to these communities and the close relations which they had with their immediate neighbours to the north-west even to the extent of intermarriage. Although there was some competition, they generally appeared to share the wealth of the Dead Sea region.
Khirbat Qazone, which was discovered, excavated, studied and first exhibited by the presenter, will be a focus of the lecture. The lecture will be put in context of the evolving Nabataean realm, specifically the interactions along the Dead Sea shores.
Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2023
Zoara and Lot’s Cave from biblical to medieval times. Excavations and Studies, 1987-2019
Zoara and the Cave Sanctuary Lot are two closely associated archaeological sites in the Ghor as-Saf in modern Jordan. I discovered, excavated and restored the former, and conducted the most extensive excavations and studies to date at the second. They are both now fully published, and my talk is a summary of the results of my work from 1987-2019.
The sites have important remains from Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods.