This Department was established in 1985 at the Institute of Arhaeology and Anthropology/Yarmok University. It is concerned with teaching and research in ancient writings. In an MA- program graduate students are introduced to the languages of the Ancient Near East, and trained in conducting research on the linguistic, historical and religious aspects of the epigraphical materials. The Department also has the task of publishing inscriptions from Jordan and on documenting those already published.
The field of Epigraphy is inter-related with several disciplines. Semitic inscriptions, for example, can help understand many of the linguistic features of Arabic, and reveal its ancient history and relationship to the other Semitic languages. Greek and Latin inscriptions contemplate in their linguistic, historical, and religious contexts, written texts in these languages.
Epigraphical material, from another viewpoint, is considered a historical source of extremely high value, since it is usually older than written texts, and free from later editions.
The Department teaches and conducts research in the following fields:
North West Semitic Inscriptions
These are inscriptions written in Ugaritic, Phoenician, Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic. Dialects of this group in Jordan are Ammonite, Moabite, and Edomite, which all belong to the first millennium B.C. To this group belongs also Nabataean, which is attested by many inscriptions in Jordan, which are considered the major source for understanding the Nabataean culture.
Writings of the Arab Peninsula
These go back to the period between the 8th century B.C. and the 6th century A.D. They are in two groups. The South Arabic inscriptions include Sabaean, Qatabanian, Mainaean, and Hadramitic inscriptions. The North Arabic inscriptions, on the other hand, are the Thamudic, Lihyanite (Dedanite) and Safaitic. Thamudic inscriptions are found in the northern parts of the Peninsula including southern Jordan. Tens of thousands of Safaitic inscriptions are found in Jordan.
Greek and Latin Inscriptions
These are found in various areas of Jordan and in the main, are from the period between the 2nd and 7th centuries AD. Numbering about 3000, most of these inscriptions are dedicatory, vocative (both pagan and Christian), commemorative and building inscriptions, the majority being tomb inscriptions.
These include a number of pre-Islamic inscriptions written in Arabic, and the Arabic inscriptions from the various periods of the Islamic era. In Jordan, they are mainly found along with the north Arabic Inscriptions in the Badiah and on Islamic monuments. Attention is paid also to Arabic papyri.
Study at the Department, Admittance:
BA with the grade of not less than "good", or its equivalent, is required. Special arrangement can be made for students who wish to join certain classes, and have them later accredited at their own universities.
30 credit hours divided into obligatory, selective and Institute's requirements. Thereafter, the student prepares an MA thesis (9 credit hours). Students with no background in Epigraphy should study additional pre- requisites in certain Smitic languages, amounting to maximum of 12 credit hours.
The obligatory courses are Canananite, Aramaic, Old North Arabic, Greek and Latin inscriptions and the field work in epigraphy. Examples of the selective courses are phoenician, Nabataean, Early Arabic inscriptions, Semitic names in Greek inscription and Semitic philology.
Grades awarded by the Department
The Department awards the degree of MA in epigraphy, after studing the required courses in the study plan and passing them, and writing a thesis.
The Department awards the degree of "High Diploma in Epigraphy", after studying the required courses in the study plan and passing them, without writing a thesis.
Beside research on the various aspects of ancient written texts, the Department of Epigraphy conducts also field research. This takes place under the umbrella of the "corpus of Inscriptions of Jordan project". The task of this project is the documentation of the inscriptions all over Jordan, especially the inscription of Jordanian Badia. Corpus includes now an archive for books, articles, maps, photographs and slides. It is also provided with the equipment necessary for documentation.
Within the frame work of Corpus the Department conducted nine long – term project:
- Ghadir al – Mallah (Directed by Dr. Fawwaz Al- Khraysheh)
- Bayir (Directed by Dr. Fawwaz Al- Khraysheh)
- Ash- Shueikah (Directed by Dr. Fawwaz Al- Khraysheh)
- Biyar al- Ghusayn (Directed by Dr. Fawwaz Al- Khraysheh)
- Wadi Salma (Directed by Mr. Mahmoud Al- Rousan)
- Wadi Rajil (Directed by Dr. Rafat Hazim)
- Safawi (Directed by Dr. Sabri Abbadi)
- Wadi Sarah (Directed by Dr. Fawwaz Al- Khraysheh)
- North – East Jordan (Directed by Prof. Dr. Nabel Bader)