Hisban – a Site with a View (to History)

The multi-millennial archaeological site of Tall Hisban occupies a central place in the LDG project. Not only does it provide the longest single continuous record. It also documents changes brought about by passing empires as well as the resilience of certain indigenous practices and habits conditioned by local traditions and topographies. For this reason Tall Hisban conveniently serves as a metaphor for our joint inquiries of local dynamics of globalization.

    Depending on just how to define ‘empire’ and ‘state’, during historical time more than 25 empires and secondary states have successively claimed hegemony over the hill known respectively as Heshbon, Hesban, or Hisban. It started with the Old Egyptian Empire in the Late Bronze age, followed by for instance Assyrians, Neo Babylonians, Romans, Ottomans, Mongolians, before ending with the British mandate and the Hashemite state. (See table: Hesban as a Window to Global History).

    While imperial and national powers came and went, the hill remained – and so did local habits of water collection, food production, etc. The archaeological record shows that in everyday-matters life changed only modestly due to the ebb and flow of changing empires. This double observation is the starting point for LDG. The historical and archaeological records of Hisban offer a way of (re-)viewing the history of localities that had to deal with globalizing forces – and also the fate of these forces in local discourse.

Read Oystein LaBianca and Jeff Hudon’s presentation of the history of archaeological excavations at Tall Hisban here – and the corresponding bibliography here.

Further resources on Hisban

Paul Reed’s video Deep Time at Tall Hisban with Oystein LaBianca as narrator.

Paul Lohne’s blog on Hisban in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Google Earth mapping of Tall Hisban, Jordan: http://www.maplandia.com/jordan/amman/hisban/. (The site is slightly east, i.e. to the right, of the provided marker.)

For a map locating Heshbon in its biblical context, see http://bibleatlas.org/full/heshbon.htm.

For a graphic representation of the long history of empires in the region, consult the Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land, DAAHL.