site located near the northern border of Jordan and the town of Ramtha (map reference 247 × 212). The site's excavator, Paul W. Lapp, identified it with Ramat-Gilead based on the apparent linguistic similarity, its location, and the occupational evidence. The site's small size could disqualify the identification, but it is the only excavated site in the area whose occupational history corresponds to the biblical record. Tell el-Ḥusn, for example, the largest site in the area with any archaeological remains, has not been excavated.
In a sounding at Rumeith In 1962, sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), Lapp investigated the occupation on the mound, and he uncovered Hellenistic and later material to the east, which, without substantial architecture, seemed to indicate only transient occupation. He returned for a six-week excavation In 1967 with the additional sponsorship of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, limiting the second campaign to the fort on the mound, which had been occupied for about two centuries during the Iron Age. Lapp investigated the four Iron Age strata (VIII–V) by clearing the northeast quadrant of the fortress down to bedrock and clearing a portion of the southeast quadrant along the east wall. The plans of the four strata were recovered and ceramic groups whose typology is Syrian were collected.
The contours of the mound suggest that the stratum VIII fort, believed to be Solomonic, was symmetrical (approximately 37 × 32 m). Its mud-brick walls were about 1.5 m thick and the north wall had a recessed gate. Excavation to bedrock revealed a leveling operation prior to construction. The destruction debris above the stratum VIII floors was as much as a half-meter thick. The stone grinding implements, craters and bowls, ovens, and bins recovered indicate that the occupants had produced and processed grain. In stratum VII (probably when the site was under the control of the Arameans), which followed soon after the stratum VIII destruction, a stone defense line more than 1.5 m wide was built of very large and roughly dressed boulders around the mud-brick fort. Thin walls divided the space between the stone and mud-brick walls into casemates and the earlier gateways were reused. The Arameans may have converted the site into a border fort. About 2 m of destruction debris preserved the stratum VII plan and assemblages of pottery and stone implements that show a distinct Syrian influence of the mid-ninth century BCE. The destructions could date to the reigns of Jehoshaphat and Ahab or to Ahaziah and Jehoram.
The stratum VI occupation could be attributed to the Arameans and Hazael's extending Syria's borders to the south. The entire area within the walls of the stratum VI fort had been leveled in order to construct a platform out of thick gray clay. The houses in the southeast quadrant consisted of two rooms with a cobbled floor and evidence of a stairway to the roof. The lower half-meter of the 50-cm-thick walls was constructed of small rough stones topped by mud brick. Ceramic assemblages, found on the floor in the thick destruction layer, dated the destruction to about 800 BCE, possibly relating it to Joash's defeat of the Arameans at Aphek.
The strata VI and V occupations extended beyond the fortress walls, but there was no sign of their defenses. Inside the lines of the fort, the stratum V walls were preserved to a height of 1.5 m. Rooms were filled with destruction debris that may belong to Tiglath-Pileser III's 733 BCE campaign in Palestine.
- Lapp, Nancy L. “Rumeith.” In Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 2, Field Reports, edited by Denys Homès-Fredericq and J. Basil Hennessy, pp. 494–497. Louvain, 1989.
- Lapp, Paul W. “Tell er-Rumeith.” Revue Biblique 70 (1963): 406–411; 75 (1968): 98–105. Preliminary reports after the excavations.
- Lapp, Paul W. “Excavations at Tell er-Rumeith.” In The Tale of the Tell: Archaeological Studies, edited by Nancy L. Lapp, pp. 111–119. Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series, 5. Pittsburgh, 1975. Popular report of the excavations reprinted from an ASOR newsletter.
Nancy L. Lapp