The site of Dhiban dates back 5,000 years and has revealed remains from several time periods
throughout that history. Excavations began in 1910 by Duncan Mackenzie, then in the 1950s
and 1960s under the auspices of the American Schools of Orient Research (now the American
Society of Overseas Research), and presently in the 21st century by a consortium of the
University of Liverpool, Knox College, and the University of California, Berkeley. The major
periods represented at Dhiban include:
• The Early Bronze Age -- The earliest settlement of the site is from the third millennium BC.
While the archaeological context is extremely disturbed at the site, there may have been
connections with texts from the 18th and 19th dynasties of Egypt.
• The Iron Age -- Revealing large buildings and a cemetery from the 9th and 8th centuries BC,
this is the period of greatest interest to those working with ancient texts like the Mesha Stele
and the Old Testament. Discovered in the mid-19th century, the Stele provides invaluable
historical and political information about the ancient Moabite capital of Dibon and the region
• The Hellenistic and Nabataean Periods -- While archaeological remains are limited, historical
reconstructions suggest occupation of the site.
• The Roman and Byzantine Periods -- Architectural and artifactual finds from these periods
suggest a growing community, paralleling a number of sites in central Jordan.
• The Islamic Periods -- Historical and archaeological sources point to an expanding settlement
in area and influence until the site's decline from the last half of the 14th century AD. The 1950s
saw renewed life at Dhiban when the Bani Hamida Bedouin tribe settled and grew the city.