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Tell es-Sa'idiyeh

In the central Jordan Valley near the river Jordan, the large double mound of Tell es-Sa'idiyeh has been identified as ancient Zarethan.




Early Bronze Age

Extensive palace complex.

Palace Destroyed


Palace destroyed by fire.



Excavations by Jonathan Tubb on behalf of the British Museum.

Palace at Tell es-Sa'idiyeh

Excavations on the Lower Tell have uncovered parts of an extensive Early Bronze Age palace complex, the function of which was the industrial-scale production and commercial distribution of commodities for export to Egypt. One wing was devoted to manufacture of fine textiles, another to the production of wine, and another for the extraction of olive oil. The complex was destroyed by fire ~ BCE, and the dense layer of debris sealed in position an extensive collection of pottery and other finds.

The Sa'idiyeh palace also contained a suite of public rooms, including a scullery. The scullery contained an extraordinary depose of artifact and botanical remains. A dinner setting for eleven persons had been returned from the dining room, ready to be washed up, when the fire broke out which destroyed the entire complex. Serving dishes, bowls and mugs were found, together with flint knives and bone points which may have served as kebab skewers or perhaps even tooth picks. The botanical remains were remarkable and included charred olives, grapes, figs, capers and a pomegranate. An almost unique discovery was of wheat still on the ear, a finding which places the palace destruction in June or July.