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RABBATH-AMMON (Rabbah ; Heb. רַבַּת בִּנֵי עַמּוֹן ,רַבָּה), the capital of the Ammonites, present-day Amman, capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of *Jordan. The earliest settlement, dating from the Chalcolithic period until the end of the early Bronze Age (c. 2200 b.c.e.), was centered on a sacred rock on the acropolis. After a gap, occupation was resumed with the establishment of the Ammonite kingdom. Its strong fortifications prevented its capture by the Israelites (Josh. 13:25). The bedstead of the giant *Og, king of Bashan, in Rabbath-Ammon is mentioned in the Bible (Deut. 3:11). In the time of David, Joab captured the "royal city" and the "city of waters" (probably the acropolis and the water installations in the valley below), but he postponed conquest of the entire city until David's arrival (ii Sam. 11–12; cf. i Chron. 20:1). Shobi, the son of Nahash (an Ammonite king) of Rabbath-Ammon, succored David when he fled before Absalom (ii Sam. 17:27–29). Soon after David's death, however, the city again became the capital of an independent kingdom, and it is denounced as such by the prophets Amos (1:14), Jeremiah (49:2–3), and Ezekiel (21:25; 25:5). Remains of tombs and temples containing figurines and seals inscribed in Ammonite have been found there. The main temple was erected over the "sacred" rock on the acropolis.

In the Hellenistic period, Rabbath-Ammon was again a flourishing city and was known as Philadelphia in honor of Ptolemy ii and his wife Arsinoe. It was besieged and taken by Antiochus iii in 218 b.c.e. by a stratagem similar to that used earlier by *Joab (see iChron. 19:10ff.). The city successfully resisted Alexander Yannai under its ruler Zeno Cotylas. It became a city of the *Decapolis in Roman times and later developed into a great and prosperous center of the caravan trade in Provincia Arabia. It was mentioned by Eusebius (Onom. 146). It was captured by the Arabs in 635 and became the capital of the Belqa' district. A Jewish community existed there in the 11th–12th centuries, as is known from the Scroll of *Abiathar. In the time of the Crusaders, Rabbath-Ammon, then known as Ahamant, was temporarily in the possession of the prince of Transjordan. It was subsequently abandoned until resettled by Circassians in 1878, who were relocated there by the Ottoman Turks. In 1921 it became the capital of the emirate of Transjordan and later of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Its population, greatly increased by Palestinian refugees, numbered approximately 200,000 in 1970. By 2006 its population was over 1.7 million.

The site was surveyed and photographed by a British team led by C. Warren in 1867 for the Palestine Exploration Fund. Since then Amman was frequently visited by scholars and explorers, notably by H.C. Butler in 1921. In 1927 an Italian expedition directed by G. Guidi worked at the site; the excavations continued in 1929–33 under the direction of R. Bartoccini. From 1945 G.L. Harding investigated Amman on behalf of the Department of Antiquities, and in 1966 J.B. Hennessy excavated the Late Bronze Age temple on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Numerous excavations have taken place in recent years in Amman, particularly in the area of the acropolis/citadel (Jebel Qal'a).


H.C. Butler, Architecture (1909), 34ff.; Avi-Yonah, Geog, index; L. Harding, in: qdap, 11 (1945), 67ff.; 14 (1950), 44ff.; idem, in: adaj, 3 (1956), 80; Maayah, ibid., 4–5 (1960), 114–5; Ward, ibid., 8–9 (1964), 47ff. add. bibliography: G.M. Landes, "The Material Civilization of the Ammonites," in: Biblical Archaeologist, 24 (1961), 65–86; A. Almagro and E. Olavarri, "A New Umayyad Palace at the Citadel of Amman," in: A. Hadidi (ed.), Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordani (1982), 305–21; L.G. Herr, The Amman Airport Excavations, 1976. asor Annual 48 (1983); A. Northedge, Studies on Roman and Islamic Amman (1992); J.B. Humbert and F. Zayadine, "Trois campagnes de fouilles à Ammân (1988–1991)," in: Revue Biblique, 99 (1992), 214–60; G.S.P. Grenville, R.L. Chapman and J.E. Taylor, Palestine in the Fourth Century. The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea (2003), 81.

[Michael Avi-Yonah /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]

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