Field Report

Beidha in Jordan: A Dionysian Hall in a Nabataean Landscape

Heads from column capitals
Heads from column capitals

In 2005, at Beidha, a northern suburb of the Nabataean capital of Petra, the remains of an elaborately decorated freestanding building were uncovered. Although little of the structure remains, architectural elements found at the site make it possible to propose a tentative reconstruction of the building, the main part of which was a colonnaded hall or oecus approached through a courtyard. The oecus may have been a triclinium of the Nabataean ruler Malichos I (59/58–30 B.C.E.). The elements uncovered display a wealth of imported Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and eastern architectural and artistic ideas adapted to local use. The building is located in an area that was a wine-production center in the Nabataean era, and the decorative program of the oecus is Dionysian. This article argues that the complex, which was abandoned shortly after it went into use, was built to extol tryphé (living in luxury) and to link the Nabataean royal house to Dionysos and Alexander.

Survey    Architecture    Pottery    Masonry    Iconography    Excavation   

DOI: 10.3764/aja.112.3.465