Lecture Series: Excavating Abila: Past, Present, and Future

Tuesday, October 12, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. Amman local time / 12:00 p.m. ED

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Abila, Abila in the Decapolis, is most well known as one of the cities of the Hellenistic league known as the Decapolis, and then as the home of five prominent churches during the Byzantine period. The Decapolis was a group of ten cities (Abila, Damascus, Dion, Gerasa, Gadara, HipposPella, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis) that formed a Hellenistic or Greco-Roman confederation or league located south of the Sea of Galilee in the Transjordan. Abila lies about three miles south of the Yarmuk River (nahr el-Yarmuk), the modern border between Jordan and Syria. This talk presents a brief overview of the past 40 years of excavations at this site, and provides an update on current work. The speaker will also map out plans for future archaeological work at the site.

About the speaker: Professor David Vila joined John Brown University in the Fall of 1999 from Saint Louis University where he completed a Ph.D. in Historical Theology.  His dissertation, Christian Martyrs in the First Abbasid Century and the Development of an Apologetic Against Islam, focused on early Christian-Muslim relations, especially as seen in the hagiography of the period.  He spent the 1995-96 academic year on a Fulbright grant in Jordan, studying Arabic and working on his dissertation.  Since 1990, David has been involved with an archaeological excavation in northern Jordan at the ancient site of Abila of the Decapolis.  During the 2006-2007 academic year David was a Fulbright Scholar appointed to the Department of Archaeology at Jordan University.  In 2008, he was named Director of the Abila Archaeological Project and has been leading the excavation ever since.  He also directs the Jordan Summer Studies Program at his university which provides the opportunity for students to work with the excavation at Abila while earning academic credit. 

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