Name of Monument:

Ayn al-Basha


Ayn al-Basha, Jordan

Date of Monument:

Hegira 648–923 / AD 1250–1517

Period / Dynasty:



Ayn al-Basha, the water spring of Pacha is located at about 20 km northwest of Amman along a major ancient north-to-south route that connected the northern parts of Jordan with its southern parts. Besides its strategic location, Ayn al-Basha has both abundant water resources and cultivable lands which have ensured the region is densely inhabited in ancient times as much as in the present. The first major period of occupation was in the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BC) and the Iron Age (1200–330 BC). During the latter period, the site comprised a whole series of structures of the type known as megalithic. These massively built buildings extended over an area of 300 m in length and 60 m in width.
The first season of archaeological excavations took place at the site in 1974 as a joint venture between the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Jordan. The main focus of the archaeological investigations was a natural rock-shelter. In plan, the dwelling was irregular with several side rooms modified to serve the needs of the inhabitants of the shelter during the Mamluk period. Several Mamluk pottery shards were also found among the ruined buildings from the Iron Age. Utilising earlier buildings and using cave-shelters was a common practice in Jordan during the Mamluk and the Ottoman periods. This practice was probably adopted as a response to a period of political and economic instability, and social disturbance. Studies in several regions of Jordan demonstrate that during the Ottoman period the inhabitants lived in caves temporarily, along with their herds, to avoid paying high taxes to the authorities.

View Short Description

Ayn al-Basha is located about 20 km northwest of Amman along an ancient major north–south route. The area has abundant water sources and cultivable lands and has therefore been densely inhabited since the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BC). A natural rock-shelter was modified with side rooms to serve as a dwelling, and ruined buildings from the Iron Age seem to have been re-used during the Mamluk period. Using earlier buildings and cave-shelters was common practice in Jordan during the Mamluk and the Ottoman periods, probably due to political and economic instability and social disturbance.

How Monument was dated:

Archaeological investigations at the site demonstrate that Ayn al-Basha has had a long occupational history beginning in the Iron Age. These investigations indicate that the site and especially the caves around the site were extensively inhabited during the Mamluk period.

Selected bibliography:

ابراهيم، معاوية "الحفريات الأثرية في ألأردن (1975)"،حولية دائرة الاثار العامة، العدد 20 (1975)،ص.17.
Glueck, N., “Explorations in Eastern Palestine III”, in Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Vol. 18–19 (1937–9), pp.193–4, 197.

Citation of this web page:

Mohammad Najjar "Ayn al-Basha" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021.;ISL;jo;Mon01;23;en

Prepared by: Mohammad NajjarMohammad Najjar

Mohammad Najjar is an archaeologist and has been Director of Excavations and Surveys at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan since 1988. He studied archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in 1982 as Curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. He was the Technical Director of Cultural Resources Management (sites development) at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities between 1994 and 1997. He is the author of numerous publications on the archaeology of Jordan.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: JO 23


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