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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access March 3, 2020

On the Lookout: Directional Visibility Cones and Defense in the Nebo Region, West-Central Jordan

  • Steven Edwards EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Archaeology


This article uses directional visibility analysis to assess the defensibility of two Iron Age (9th–8th cent. BCE) sites from the Nebo region of west-central Jordan: the fortified town of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat and its adjacent watchtower at Rujm al-Mukhayyat. Directional visibility cones illustrate how the improved viewsheds afforded by the watchtower at Rujm al-Mukhayyat were needed to establish line of sight between Khirbat al-Mukhayyat and other settlements located higher up on the Transjordanian plateau. Without the addition of the watchtower, Khirbat al-Mukhayyat would have been cut off from direct communication with nearby towns at Hesban and Ma’in. Despite the increased visibility provided by the watchtower at Rujm al-Mukhayyat, Khirbat al-Mukhayyat retained limited capacity to monitor movement to the south in the vicinity of Ma’in. Further, it could not establish direct visual contact with the important urban centre at Madaba to the southeast. These findings may have implications for understanding the military strategy adopted by the Moabite king Mesha in his mid-9th century BCE campaign against the Town of Nebo, identified with Khirbat al-Mukhayyat.


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Received: 2019-10-03
Accepted: 2019-12-18
Published Online: 2020-03-03

© 2020 Steven Edwards, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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