Abila of the Decapolis - Tomb H-59
The excavation of Tomb H-59 was directed by Dr. Robert Smith during the 1996 field season; overall work at Abila in Jordan was under the responsibility of Dr. W. Harold Mare. Tomb H-59 was an unrobbed chamber tomb with 4 loculi on the north wall, 2 loculi on the wall opposite of the entrance and 3 loculi on the south wall. The loculi were irregular in dimensions suggesting that they had not been cut by the same mason. One of the loculi on the south wall is almost large enough to be an independent/attached tomb.

Loculus 1 contained a Roman funerary bust with a Greek inscription that Professor Bastian Van Eldern translates as "NIKIAS - Be of Good Cheer." The funerary bust measured 30 cm high and 20 cm wide; the text area measured 9 cm by 14 cm with individual letters 3 to 4 cm in height. The funerary bust was found in locus 006 (soil, stone and clay used to seal Loculus number 1); the bust received received special object number 200. The excavation form notes that the name had been partialy defaced, mud had been smeared over the face, and it had been reused to seal the entrance to the western loculus on the north wall of the tomb.

Another Greek name was written on a Late Roman bag jar from locus 005 is "POLYPHEMOS."


Contact print view of tomb H-59 at Abila during excavation.

Pottery altar/incense burner from tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Drawing of the pottery altar/incense burner from tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Pottery altar/incense burner from tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Pottery altar/incense burner from tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Pottery jar with single handle from tomb H-59, locus 25 at Abila, Jordan. Height = 20 cm, rim diameter = 8.2 cm and maximum body diameter = 15.2 cm. Drawing by Robert Smith. Computerized drawing by Neathery Batsell Fuller.

Pottery vessel from tomb H-59, locus 26 at Abila, Jordan. Height = 11.2 cm, rim diameter = 8.6 cm and body diameter = 11.2 cm. The two intact vessels were identified as Late Roman in the excavation notes; a few Byzantine sherds inside the tomb suggested that it had been reused at a later date.

Ear rings from tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Drawing of Roman glass found in tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Contact print image of a glass unguentarium (with broken flat rim) in situ in tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Contact print image of a Roman burial in situ in a loculus 1 in tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan. Three loculi contained articulate burials and the other loculi contained disarticulated bones.

Contact print image of a Roman burial in situ in loculus 1 in tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.

Contact print image of a Roman burial in situ in loculus 3 in tomb H-59 at Abila, Jordan.
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
Revised 23 April 2017