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The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, Volume 1
Architecture and Religion. Final Report on Nelson Glueck’s 1937 Excavation, AASOR 67

By Judith S. McKenzie, Joseph A. Greene, Andres T. Reyes, Catherine S. Alexander, Deirdre G. Barrett, Brian Gilmour, John F. Healey, Margaret O’Hea, Nadine Schibille, Stephan G. Schmid, Wilma Wetterstrom and Sara Whitcher Kansa

The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, Volume 1
Hardback, 368 pages £15.00
Published: 2014
ISBN: 9780897570350
Format: 280mm x 215mm
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Subjects: American Schools of Oriental Research, Ancient Near East, Archaeology
Series: Annual of ASOR

Khirbet et-Tannur is a Nabataean site dating from the second century B.C. to the fourth to sixth centuries A.D. located on a hilltop above the Wadi el-Hasa near Khirbet edh-Dharih, 70 km north of Petra along the King’s Highway. In 1937, Nelson Glueck excavated Khirbet et-Tannur on behalf of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Department of Antiquities of Transjordan, but died before completing a final report. Now, in two extensively illustrated volumes, the results of Glueck’s excavations are finally published, based on previously unstudied excavation records and archaeological materials in the ASOR Nelson Glueck Archive at the Semitic Museum, Harvard University.

Volume 1 is devoted to the architecture of the temple, the dating of its successive phases, its sculptural decoration and iconography,and to a discussion of Nabataean religion, including the evidence for its connections with the religion of Iron Age Edom and its continuation at the temple of Khirbet et-Tannur well into the Christian era, before the A.D. 363 earthquake brought an end to the site. The volume closes with observations about iconoclasm at Khirbet et-Tannur, Khirbet edh-Dharih and Petra.

Annual of ASOR 67

Contributions by
Kate da Costa, Patrick Degryse, Kathy Eremin, Sheila Gibson, Owen Gingerich and Elias Khamis

Preface and Acknowledgements  Judith S. McKenzie



Chapter 1.  Introduction  Judith S. McKenzie

The Discovery of Khirbet et-Tannur

Glueck’s Methodology

Publication of Khirbet et-Tannur

The Present Study

Appendix 1.1: List of Workmen at Khirbet et-Tannur

Appendix 1.2: The Tell el-Kheleifeh Division and Shipping

Chapter 2.  Architecture and Phases  Judith S. McKenzie

The Site

Khirbet edh-Dharih

Early Phases

Main Construction Phase (Period 2): Altar Platform 2, Cult Statues, Zodiac, Inner Temenos Enclosure, Temenos, and Triclinia

Repairs ofPeriod 3: Altar Platform 3, Pair of Niches, and Colonnades

Unplaced Architectural and Sculptural Fragments of Periods 2 and 3

Later Worship and Destruction

Appendix 2.1: List of Sculptural and Architectural Fragments in Cincinnati Art Museum by Judith S. McKenzie and Joseph A. Greene

Chapter 3.  Iconographic Program  Judith S. McKenzie and Andres T. Reyes


The Epigraphic Evidence for Qos, and the La'aban Spring

Iconography of the Qos Stele

The Cult Statues

Vegetation Goddess Panel


Light at Night: the Moon and Figures with Torches

Nike Caryatid Supporting the Zodiac

The Zodiac

Busts on the Inner Temenos Enclosure Frieze

Free-standing Animals

Period 3 Iconographic Additions

Overall Interpretation

Appendix 3.1: A Note on Attempts to Date the Zodiac by Owen Gingerich

Appendix 3.2: A Note on the Zodiac Lamp from Petra by Kate da Costa

Chapter 4.  Religious Practice  Judith S. McKenzie and Andres T. Reyes


High Place and Pilgrimage Centre: Summary of Local Context and Chronology

Food for the Gods

Offertory Boxes

North-east and West Altars

Personal Dedications: Incense Altars and Stelai / Betyls

Feeding the Worshippers


The Lack of Terracotta Figurines

Edomite Heritage: Offerings and Sanctuary Design

Festival Occasions

From How Far Did the Worshippers Come?

The Designs of the Temples at Khirbet edh-Dharih and Khirbet et-Tannur Compared with Other Nabataean Temples

Internal Podia, Platforms, and Adyta

Deities in the Temples of Petra

Positions of Altars

Worshipping Standing Stones: Cult Statues, Altars, and Podia / Thrones

The Nabataean Legacy

Appendix 4.1: Note on a Hand-modeled Terracotta Animal Figurine by Andres T. Reyes

Chapter 5.  Iconoclasm at Khirbet et-Tannur and Petra  Judith S. McKenzie

Damage to Relief Sculptures at Petra and Medain Saleh

Damage at Khirbet edh-Dharih

Damage at Khirbet et-Tannur

The Nabataean Legacy in Early Islamic Art



Bibliographical Abbreviations


Sources of Illustrations


'This final report on an excavation carried out decades ago is a fine achievement. McKenzie and her team should be congratulated for this important contribution to Nabataean history, architecture and art, and religious practice.'
Joseph Patrich, Journal of Roman Archaeology, Vol 30, 2017

'Rarely has this reviewer seen so useful and attractive an excavation report.  This is all the more impressive because of the viscissitudes of attempting to integrate the evidence for an excavation of 80 years ago, performed under the strictures of that era and whose records and material cultuire are widely dispersed, with teh present state of the site - an immense task admirably performed by the principla investigator and her colleagues. The hundreds of plans and illustrations, both contemporary and historic and many in color, enhance the report. The nbarrative is clear, concise and informative, and the cataloges are useuful but not intrusive. This is a model publication about a little-known yet essential part of teh ancinet world, revealing a aite whose interpretation has languished for half a century.'
Duane W. Roller, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol 120 No 3 (July 2016)

'All these studies are extremely useful because they make an enormous amount of old and often unknown material available to scholars, not only those interested in the Nabataeans but also those interested in the ancient Middle East in general, in religion and rituals, in technology and in various sorts of archaeological material.
'The enormous number of documents studied by the authors, their nature (an archive), and the fact that the excavation took place more than seventy years ago added to the complexity of the project and made this publication a real tour de force.' (Laila Nehme, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, June 2015)

Judith S. McKenzie won the Archaeological Institute of America Wiseman Book Award for The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, 300 B.C.–A.D. 700 (Pelican History of Art, Yale University Press, 2007). She is University Research Lecturer in Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, and Director of the Khirbet et-Tannur project.

Joseph A. Greene is Deputy Director and Curator of the Semitic Museum, Harvard University, and Series Editor of the Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Andres T. Reyes is member of Wolfson College, Oxford. He is an archaeologist who teaches Greek and Latin at Groton School. He is the author of Archaic Cyprus (Oxford University Press) and editor of C. S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid (Yale University Press). 

Catherine S. Alexander is an archaeological artist for the Archaeological Expedition to Sardis (Turkey), Harvard University.

Deirdre G. Barrett is a Research Associate of the Semitic Museum, Harvard University, and a specialist in ancient lamps.

Brian Gilmour is a metallurgist at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford.

John F. Healey is Professor of Semitic Studies at Manchester University.

Margaret O’Hea is Senior Lecturer in Classics, University of Adelaide (Australia).

Nadine Schibille is Lecturer in Byzantine at History, University of Sussex (England), and was a research chemist at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford.

Stephan G. Schmid is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Winckelmann-Institut, Humboldt University, Berlin.

Wilma Wetterstrom is Research Associate in Botany in the Harvard University Herbaria.


Sara Whitcher Kansa is Executive Director of the Alexandria Archive Institute (Berkeley, CA), Editor of Open Context, and a specialist in zooarchaeology.

Kate da Costa is Honorary Research Affiliate in Archaeology, University of Sydney, and a specialist in ancient lamps.

Patrick Degryse is Research Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Geology Centre for Archaeological Sciences, University of Leuven (Belguim).

The late Sheila Gibson was an archaeological artist best-known for her reconstruction drawings in J. B. Ward-Perkins’ Roman Imperial Architecture.

Owen Gingerich is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University.

Elias Khamis is Research Associate in Classics, University of Oxford, and a specialist in ancient metal work.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 368 pages
 280mm x 215mm

BIC Code:
  HIS002000, SOC003000
 American Schools of Oriental Research


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Other books by
John F. Healey
Nadine Schibille
Judith S. McKenzie
Joseph A. Greene
Andres T. Reyes
Catherine S. Alexander
Deirdre G. Barrett
Brian Gilmour
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Wilma Wetterstrom
Sara Whitcher Kansa

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