Abila of the Decapolis - Tomb H-31
The excavation of Tomb H 31 was directed by Dr. Robert Smith during the 1992 field season; overall work at Abila in Jordan was under the responsibility of Dr. W. Harold Mare. The tomb contained 7 Roman funerary busts that were found in one corner of the sump of the tomb.



Published plan of tomb H-31.



Published section drawing of tomb H-31.



Field plan of tomb H-31.


Closeup of the field plan of tomb H-31 showing the cluster of Roman funerary busts (special find nos. 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60). It was typical for the field teams at Abila to refer to the Roman funerary busts as "Caspers" (because they resemble a cartoon character named Casper the friendly ghost). Two ring fragments and bronze pin were found on the floor below the tumble of funerary busts. No discvernible orientation of the busts was observed.


Roman Cooking pot excavated from locus 10 in tomb H-31, registration number 98.

Roman/Byzantine juglet excavated from locus 12 in tomb H-31, registration number 41.

Examples of moldmade oil lamps excavated from loci 6, 7, and 13 in tomb H-31, registration number 46, 47, and 83. Drawing by Robert Smith.

Engraved intaglio from an iron ring found in loculus 1 of tomb H-31 at Abila. The ring is from locus 04, registration number 132. The design relates to the cult of Dionysius. The decoration shows a nude Bacchic reveler wh ocarries a Thyrsus over his left shoulder; his head is thrown back in ecstacy. Drawn by Robert Smith.

Four bag jar excavated from tomb H-31 at Abila.

View of locolus 6 before excavation at tomb H-31 at Abila, Jordan. An intact bag jar can be seen braced against the mouth of the loculus.

The excavation form for locus 003 notes that a significant amount of material was found in the central chamber, especially on the west side of the chamber. A significant amount of ceiling collapse covered the floor; the soil under the ceiling collapse included a number of funerary busts and fragments. Many bag jar fragments were found in the soil under the ceiling collapse.

Other artifacts recorded in the inventory of the tomb include beads, spindle whorls, a Roman clay oil lamp, an Early Roman clay oil lamp (with Herodian style nozzle), a Late Roman clay oil lamp, a bronze fibula, finger ring with green glass/stone, finger ring with red glass/stone, finger ring with a relief possibly related to Dionysus, finger ring without stone or decoration, large bronze ring (coffin or arm?), a bronze needle, several glass ungentaria ranging from 7.5 to 17.5 cm in height, iron blades (including one with a wood handle), hair pen, and egg shell fragments.

The intact, moldmade Early Roman clay oil lamp was found in situ in a lamp niche (locus 13) cut into the bedrock above loculus number 5 (situated in the Southeast corner of the central chamber.
Thank you to Dr. David Chapman (Convenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis) and Dr. David Villa (John Brown University) for permission to work with the artifacts and records from the Abila Project. Special thanks to Cheryl Eaton to helping locate the relevant artifacts and records.
Webpage created 11 March 2017
Updated 24 April 2017