Memories of Digging
at Lehun, Jordan, in 1982
Text and Photographs by Dr. Francis Deblauwe


The dig house and our trusted Land Rover by sundown.
In 1982, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in the Belgian excavations at Lehun. I was still an undergraduate student at the time. Profs. Paul Naster (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium) and Denyse Homès-Fredericq (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, and Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, Brussels, Belgium) directed the dig from 1977 till 1984; since 1985, Prof. Homès-Fredericq is the sole director.

This archaeological site is located at the very edge of the Wadi Mujib (ancient Arnon) nearby Dhiban in ancient Moab. It was a stop on the Royal Road, an ancient caravan route east of the Dead Sea.  The site has a gorgeous view over the majestic wadi:

This river valley is cut deep into the landscape, resembling a canyon. On a clear day, we could actually spot the Dead Sea glistening in the far distance to the west.

The archaeological remains recovered so far date back to the Paleolithic (ca. 200,000 BC), the Neolithic, the Chalcolithic, the Early Bronze Age, the Late Bronze-Iron Age, the Iron Age, the Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman periods.

During the 1982 season, we excavated Area B3 right next to the dig house:

You can see the cliff of the Wadi Mujib just barely in the upper left corner. Notice that these remains were very close to the surface. The main feature here was an EB IA-B tomb (3 women and 1 child) with more than 130 pieces of ceramics, many complete and undamaged. The pottery ranged from large jars to amphoriskoi and miniature "thumb bowls." An example of the latter is given below:

I will never forget the cameraderie I experienced at this dig. We formed a great team. I should not forget to mention Sven Use, my fellow student, who taught me all about opera and Italian libretti. Our cook, Abu Aref, always managed to please our palate. Also, the relations with the local workmen were very cordial. This photograph shows one of them singing an epic song while accompanying himself with the traditional Arab lute or 'ud:

For a more detailed overview of the work at Lehun, see for example the article by D. Homès-Fredericq in B. De Vries and P. Bikai, "Archaeology in Jordan," in American Journal of Archaeology, 97 (July 1993), pp. 457-520, viz. pp. 468-471.  There is now also a web site of the project at

If you would like to find out what the plans for the future are, you can e-mail Prof. Homès-Fredericq.

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Originally uploaded in October 1998; last updated 3-13-03.