Khirbat ‘Ataruz

Biblical City of Ataroth

Khirbat ‘Ataruz is located in Jordan, 15 miles south of the town of Madaba, 6 miles west of the village Libb and 2 miles east of the ancient site of Machaerus, between the Wadi Zarqa Main on the north and the Wadi Sayl Haydan on the south. During the Iron Age it was a fortified town situated on an important crossroads that intersected on a ridge overlooking the Dead Sea. The ancient roads that led from the Dead Sea, the Wadi Sayl Haydan and the town of Madaba met at this important cultic site.

Biblical Archaeology: From the Ground Down

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Ataruz is mentioned in both Biblical and historical sources. It has been associated with the ancient city of Ataroth in the Hebrew Bible. According to Numbers 34:32, “The children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer...” The Hebrew Bible mentions that the tribe of Gad was assigned its territory in Transjordan and built Ataroth as well.
Ataruz is also mentioned in the Mesha Inscription, where it says that the Gadites lived in the area around Ataroth from ancient times, and Omri the king of Israel built a city there. As the power of the Omride dynasty began to wane, Mesha saw an opportunity to “throw off the yoke” of the house of Omri. He sought to unify the region under his leadership by attacking the cities of Nebo and Jahaz. He also launched a campaign against the city of Ataroth and killed its inhabitants as an offering to his god, Chemosh. Later he rebuilt the town and its temple.
An Iron Age temple was found at Ataruz. In addition, many cultic objects were discovered there along with several altars and a pillar inscription. Current excavations focus on the northern and southern edges of the temple complex.

Chang-Ho Ji

Chang-Ho JiChang-Ho Ji is professor of education and Middle Eastern studies at La Sierra University.

Robert D. Bates

Robert D. BatesRobert D. Bates is research associate in Egyptology at Andrews University.

Ralph H. Hawkins

Ralph H. HawkinsRalph H. Hawkins is associate professor at Averett University.

Dig Directors

Chang-Ho Ji
Robert D. Bates
Ralph H. Hawkins

Geographic Location

Jebal Hamidah, Jordan

Periods of Occupation

Iron Age II, Hellenistic

Dates of the Dig

May 13 - June 2, 2015

Minimum Stay

10 - 14 days

Application Due

April 1, 2015. Security form for the Department of Antiquities Jordan is due by Feb. 1, 2015.


$1,250 for half season (May 24 - June 2), $2,000 full season (May 13 - June 2). Airfare not included.

Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Yes - La Sierra University, Averett University


Volunteers will stay at a 2-3 star hotel in Madaba, Jordan. Miriam or the Salome Hotel or equivalent. Please contact for additional information.


Dr. Chang-Ho Ji
Khirbat ‘Ataruz Project
La Sierra University
5552 Wentworth Drive
Riverside, CA 92505
Phone: 951-785-2269

Open for tours

Yes - by appointment