Roman funerary bust with a "child-like" face. The dent in the neck looks suspiciously like a modern pick wound. This busts does not have an inventory number so it can not be associated to a specific tomb or tomb field. This busts is 28.4 cm tall, 20.3 cm wide and 10.4 cm thick. It weights 3.87 kilograms.


Closeup on the face of the Roman funerary bust with a "child-like" face.


Roman funerary bust brought to the American team by one of the Jordanian workmen who had found it "in the tombs." The eyes and nose appear to be "pre-modern." The architect scale below the bust is 30 cm in length. Slide taken in 1982.


Roman funerary double bust from Abila that came to St. Louis sometime after the 1986 field season. It is too large to move to weigh or get its inventory number. It measures 33.5 cm in height, 54.5 cm in width and 13.4 cm in tickness.

What was the function of the busts carved from limestone? The most obvious answer is that they were representations on the deceased. A second theory that I have considered is that the busts were made as servants for the dead in the afterlife. The closest parallel would be the Egyptian custom of making Ushabti for burial with the dead. I realize that Ushabti are associated with pre-Roman burial customs in Egypt. A very long shot, but just maybe individuals involved with Osiris/Isis cult and had these limestone busts placed in their tombs to symbolize servants in the afterlife. That would explain the general low quality of carving and near absence of details.

Hundreds of tombs at Abila have been plundered by tomb robbers. A few robbed tombs have been salvaged but usually with very poor results. Other tombs, like the "Apsed Tomb", were drawn but not excavated. The presence of a cross over a lamp niche indicates that the "Apsed Tomb" remained in use during the Byzantine Period.


Tombs robbed between 1980 and 1982 dot the hillslope northeast of Abila. This is the Area H tomb field where two significant tombs (H-1 and H-2) were investigated during 1982.


Columbiarium L-4 in the L tomb area, 1986.

Columbiarium L-4 in the L tomb area, 1986.

Ribbed cookpot. Might be H-2, need to confirm.

Roman bi-lanceolate style red slipped lamp from Tomb L-2, locus 2010, 1986 field season.

Compound fracture of a leg bone that had healed.


Tibia with distortions caused by Tuberculosis.

Spindle unguentarium from tomb H-32, 1992 field season.

Black slipped spindle unguentarium from tomb H--8, reg. no. 99, 1988 field season.

Roman cooking pot from 1996 season found in Tomb 58 (?), locus 58002, reg. 52.


Roman glass unguentarium from H2010.4


Bell on a iron ring.


Late Hellenistic lamp fragment, 1984 season, tomb J-21, locus 001.


Small bell from tomb K-4.


Byzantine lamps from tombs L-2 and L-27..


Byzantine lamp from tomb L-2, Locus 2013 (Fuller 1987:figure 92b).


Early Roman cookpot from L tomb field during 1998 field season.


Roman fibula from the 1986 field season.


Funnel mouth glass flask (Fuller 1987: Figure 117a) from tomb L-2, 1986 season.


Dylecythos (cosmetic container) (Fuller 1987: Figure 118a) from tomb L-2, Arcsolium 2, 1986 season.


Byzantine lamp handle decorated with a human face (Fuller 1987:Figure 91b) from Tomb L-7, locus 7002, reg. no. 766, 1986 field season.


Byzantine lamp with cross design (Fuller 1987: Figure 94b) from Tomb L-7, locus 7006.


Modern Greek grave in Athens with lights and incense burning.


In situ photograph of unguentarium and human bones.


Bob Smith conducted tomb excavations at Abila starting in 1988. Several important discoveries were made including one tomb in the H field with Middle Bronze Age artifacts. MB II bowl from 1988 season. Tomb H-10?


Middle Bronze Age pottery vessel from tomb H-10, 1988 field season.


Middle Bronze Age pottery vessel.

Middle Bronze Age lamp (ca. 2000 BC) from tomb H-10, locus 001, reg. no. 115, 1988 field season.

Middle Bronze Age to Late Bronze Age lamp from locus H-13002, reg. no. 65, 1988 field season.


Roman or Byzantine Period skull from Abila tombs.


Roman Period bronze spatula from the A 86 season, tomb area H.


Roman glass unguentarium from 1990, tomb H20104, reg. no. 23.


Entrance facade of tomb H-3 (Stelai tomb) during 1986. The interior of the tomb consists of 6 loculi around a sump. It is possible that this is one of the tombs investigated in 1959 by a salvage excavation carried out by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. Pottery sherds in the fill included 1 Hellenistic, ` Late Roman, 94 Byzantine and 3 Byzantine/Umayyad. Skeletal remains of 3 individuals were identified including an infant, 3 to 5 year old child, and an adult.


Michael Fuller makes notes on a painted tomb at Abila. One of the great disappointments was that the elite tombs were already robbed or were being robbed at the time that the American Expedition started working at Abila.


Roman era painting of a woman (priestess?).


Painting of two cloaked women above a Corinthian capital.


The damaged painting was the result of tomb robbers attempting to "blind" the faces.