Beyond the Walls of Jericho: Khirbet al-Mafjar and the Signature Landscapes of the Jericho Plain

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Division of the Humanities in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

By Michael Dean Jennings

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Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
University of Chicago
Commitee: Donald Whitcomb, Fred Donner, Walter Kaegi


ABSTRACT

This dissertation offers a new understanding of Khirbet al-Mafjar, an early Islamic palace complex just north of the city of Jericho, by using a GIS-supported analysis of the physical and sociocultural landscape of the Jericho plain. The methods used in this dissertation grew out of the assumption that the distribution of settlements of the Jericho plain depended on the natural environment, and that analyzing the evolution of settlement distribution in the Jericho plain from the Hasmonean through Umayyad periods (mid second century BCE to mid eighth century CE) would shed light on some of the rationale behind the placement, function, and design of Khirbet al-Mafjar and other settlements on the Jericho plain.
     The first chapter discusses the methodology used in the dissertation, which integrates a landscape model with a basic settlement typology. The second chapter focuses on Jericho’s urban core, the population center to which all other settlements, including Khirbet al-Mafjar, responded. The third chapter discusses the settlements of the Jericho plain that formed the context into which Khirbet al-Mafjar was built. The fourth chapter focuses on Khirbet al-Mafjar itself, and discusses its features with respect to both its local context, and the objectives and interests of its Umayyad builders.