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Unearthing House of Hearts: delving into ongoing research in Jerash

By Saeb Rawashdeh - May 11,2024 - Last updated at May 11,2024

Stairs connecting the House of Hearts with shops at the Cardo Maximus in Jerash (Photo by Saeb Rawashdeh)

AMMAN — After 2022, the French archaeological team led by the Director of the French Institute of the Near East (Ifpo), Julie Bonneric, conducted the third campaign in Jerash, at the site of the House of Hearts also known as the House of the Wealthy Merchant. The structure is located in the eastern part of the city, near the Nymphaeum. The new excavation revealed stairs that linked the Roman Cardo Maximus with the structure, indicating relations between the house and the Cardo's shops.

"It should be studied whether the shops were integrated into the house or not," Bonneric said on Wednesday in Jerash, while the team was concluding the third digging season, adding that new rooms, a kitchen and store rooms were excavated.

The oven was also discovered but the team has to determine whether it was an oven for domestic use or a bakery. Some of these structures indicate the change in the social habits during the Umayyad Period.

"We are interested to see that social and urban evolution between the Byzantine and Umayyad periods," Bonneric said, noting that they want to learn more about the cooking habits, the diet and how inhabitants of Gerasa lived. 

Three metres high vaults were also uncovered as well as nine rooms, the archaeologist said.

"It is very rare to have all of these objects in context," Bonneric noted. The team also has to determine the date of found ceramics, whether it was from the Abbasid period as many buildings collapsed or were seriously damaged during the earthquake of 749 AD.

The olive or the wine press was discovered as well but the problem for the archaeological team is the lack of written sources that would explain the function of found objects.

"Unlike bigger centres like Damascus, Jerash lacks written sources for all structures and their functions," Bonneric said, noting that written sources about the diet in ancient Gerasa are still lacking.

"Archaeology can provide information that are not available in the written sources, as archaeology and written evidence complement each other. For the next season, we plan to complete the documentation of the eastern portico," Bonneric said, adding that a few inscriptions in Greek were found.

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