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Queen's University

The Humayma Excavation Project

Humayma, ancient Hawara, was a small Nabataean settlement center founded in the first century BC in the spectacularly beautiful Hisma Desert of southern Jordan, halfway between Petra and Aqaba. The Romans built a fort here after converting the Nabataean Kingdom to their Provincia Arabia in AD 106, and the site continued to prosper in the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, as evidenced by five churches and the manor house from which the Abbasid family plotted their revolt against the Umayyad Caliphate.

Between 1987 and 2005 excavations at Humayma were directed by Dr. John Oleson of the University of Victoria (

Starting with the 2008 excavation season, the project has been under the direction of Dr. M. Barbara Reeves of Queen’s University. The current focus of the project is the Roman and Byzantine period civilian community adjacent to the fort (the vicus) and the Nabataean town buried beneath it.  Several interesting discoveries have already been made in this area including a house, an insula (city block), a shrine containing a representation of the town's god, and the Roman garrison's campus (training ground).  In 2012 we will complete the excavation of two of the most interesting structures in the vicus: the Roman and Byzantine bath-house, the only structure whose phasing spans the entire history of the vicus, and a mudbrick building with small rooms and wide benches, that is hypothesized to be a brothel.

The Humayma Excavation Project is accredited by the Archaeological Standards Committee of the American Schools of Oriental Research and licensed by the Department of Antiquities of the Kingdom of Jordan. Funding for the project has been provided by the Taggart Foundation (2008), the Senate Advisory Research Committee of Queen’s University (2008, 2009, 2010), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2010), and by generous donations to the Humayma Project Trust. Team members have been assisted by fellowships and scholarships from the American Center of Oriental Research (Groot Fellowship 2010), the American Schools of Oriental Research (Heritage Fellowship 2008, Platt Fellowship 2009), the American Schools of Oriental Research in Canada (Mary Louise Mussell Fellowship 2008, 2010), and the Classics Department at Queen’s University (Classics Travel Award 2010).

Humayma 2010 Group

 2010 team at Humayma site

Humayma Excavation Project Staff (2008-2012)


Project Director: Dr. M. Barbara Reeves (Queen’s University)

Field Administrator: Barbara Fisher

Architect: Devon Skinner

Archaeobotanists: Dr. Jennifer Ramsay and Jessie George

Ceramicists: Andi Shelton, Sherry Hardin

Conservator: B. Vicky Karas

Field Supervisors: Barbara Fisher, Craig Harvey, M. Barbara Reeves, Brian Seymour, Ian Babbitt, Katie Cummer

Objects Illustrator: Brian Seymour

Osteoarchaeologist: Dr. Tiffany Rawlings

Pottery Illustrator: Sherry Hardin

Representative of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan: Amer Badour

Past Director and Consultant: Dr. John P. Oleson (University of Victoria)

Department of Classics, 505 Watson Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
P: 613.533.2745 | F: 613.533.6739