The Sacred Nature of Signs: A Study of Christian Symbolism at the Site of Humayma, Jordan

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Doran, Victoria
Classics , Near Eastern Archaeology
This project presents a catalogue of symbols that are (or could be regarded as) Christian from the archaeological site of Humayma – a town in southern Jordan that transitioned from a Nabataean caravan stop and Roman military fort into a prominent Christian settlement during the Byzantine period. The aim of this study is to contextualize the presence of Christianity within the multi-cultural framework of Humayma, to highlight the role of symbolism in the practice of Christianity, and to create a concise and comprehensive guide to both obvious and possible Christian symbols for future researchers in this field. The catalogue includes symbol types with documented Christian value from the Byzantine period, including crosses, stars, and monograms, which are presented on a variety of media throughout the site, including marble panels, jewellery, amulets, tomb stones, and coins. My contribution to this field is predominantly based in the assessment of style, symbolism and meaning for those symbols identified as Christian. Based on the evidence presented within this project, I suggest that a petroglyph carved into the Eastern Cascading Plateau of the Jebel Qalkha is a monogram for Saint Michael the archangel. This is a particularly significant finding, because the Plateau, an area with a long history of Nabataean, Roman and Islamic use, has never before been associated with Christianity. I also show that the area west of the Roman fort, D128, may contain a Christian cemetery and/or church, based on the high concentration of Christian symbols found on spolia in that particular field.
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