Research in Jordan

I’ve started my fieldwork in southern Jordan. The area is called Jabal as-Sufaha, a small, gently sloping mountain range near Shawbak. It’s a perfect place to do research about subsistence practices in arid regions. As a graduate student, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’m working under a time crunch with a limited budget. So, it is incredibly useful that the area was already surveyed by a German team in the 90s. Their prior research has allowed me to take a closer look at specific archaeological sites, so to speak, instead of spending a lot of time and money conducting a large survey.

The archaeological sites were occupied between the late Iron Age and Islamic Periods. Many of them are associated with agricultural terraces, field systems, cisterns, and barrages, so I’m excited to learn more about the dating of these features and how they were used in the past.

As you arrive at the mountain from the south, the first site you see is called Deraj I. Lindner et al. described it as an Iron Age – late Roman site, but it probably dates primarily to the Roman period based on the frequency of Roman ceramics and the style of architecture.

The southern slopes of Jabal as-Sufaha in the morning sunlight. The walls of Deraj I, so named by Lindner et al., stand out on the grassy hill below.

The mountain is forested with juniper trees and a few pistacia trees as well. The twisted branches and limbs of the juniper trees are growing out of many of the ruins, like what you see below.

A tall juniper tree next to one of the walls at Kutle II, a prominent Iron Age site on Jabal as-Sufaha.

One of the main goals of the project is to do systematic surface collections at the archaeological sites. Yesterday we began collecting from 10 x 10 meter squares at a site called Kutle H, an early Roman site with lots of agricultural features surrounding it.

Members of the survey team are collecting artifacts from a 10 x 10 meter square at Kutle H. The total sample size will be 10%.

Lindner, Manfred, Ernst A. Knauf, Ulrich Hübner, and Johannes Hübl
1998 From Edomite to Late Islamic: Jabal as-Suffaha North of Petra. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 42:225-240.

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