Intramural Burials from the Ancient Byzantine Settlement in Khirbet es-Samrā in Jordan

  • Abdalla J. Nabulsi
  • Petra Schönrock-Nabulsi
  • Jean-Baptiste Humbert
  • Alain Desreumaux
  • Christina Wurst
Keywords: Jordan - Byzantine Period - Church Burial – Anthropometry - Epigenetics- Paleopathology.


The church burials of Room-94 and Church-79 as well as the Tower 35-Tomb were excavated within the ancient Byzantine settlement in Khirbet es-Samrā, North Jordan. They were initially dated between the 7th and 9th centuries AD. The report provides the results of macroscopic analyses of the obtained human skeletal remains. These include demographic, anthropometric, epigenetic, and pathologic features. The available biological and archaeological evidence tend to suggest that the five adults and child buried in Room-94 tomb were related males, possibly of one local and highly positioned family that was associated with the adjacent Church 95. The six were successively buried in the “private” tomb in Room-94 of Church-95 and not in the “public” cemetery just outside the settlement. The two probable cases of brucellar lesions on the cervical vertebrae of two adults could be indicative of an animal breeding family and that dairy products were part of the local diet. The report also suggests a possible relatedness between Room-94 tomb burials and the 7th century AD senile female burial in Church-79, which was previously assumed to be a male church-functionary burial. Despite being marked by a cross-engraved stone and a probably lethal arrow injury, the available evidence lead to conclude that the male Tower burial, previously identified as of the 9th century AD, was in fact a medieval burial and that it is neither related to the ancient settlement nor to its ancient population. Also presented are some rarely reported biological features, e.g. the “en bloc” manifestation of the transverse foramen division on the cervical vertebrae C5 to C7.

Keywords: Jordan - Byzantine Period - Church Burial – Anthropometry - Epigenetics- Paleopathology.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1737-8176
print ISSN: 1737-7374