A recent webinar titled “Heritage vs Development: The Bait Ras Tomb Project 2017–2019” shed light on excavations spanning four decades in the ancient town in Irbid Governorate.
“In November 2016, a Roman-era tomb was discovered in the town of Bait Ras by a team working to dig a sewage line in the area,” said Deputy Chief of Party of USAID SCHEP Jihad Haroun at the event organised by American Centre of Oriental Research on Tuesday.
Thirty-five experts of different nationalities have been involved in the project which was under the umbrella of the Department of Antiquities (DOA) and ACOR , forming in the later stages an international consortium with partners from Italy (ISCR and ISPRA) and France (CNRS and Ifpo) to document and preserve this discovery, he said.
In the Hellenistic period (331 BC-63 BC), the area that occupies modern Jordan was one of most prominent and several cities formed a league known as Decapolis, Haroun said, noting that when the tomb was open the first move was to protect and document rich frescos inside.
“The geological survey proved that there are many ancient tombs in the area,” Haroun said, ”and we are probably in necropolis [a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments].”
The team found a huge basal sarcophagus that bears decoration on its front side while two lion’s heads are curved at each end, holding a ring, Haroun added.
Inside the tomb, there are 103 scenes and 248 characters both human and divine, the scholar elaborated, noting that on the ceiling mythological Nereids (female spirits of sea waters) and sea monsters represent a monumental sight, he said.
The tomb has phases dated from first century AD until fifth century AD, Haroun said, adding that the research is still ongoing.