It’s been a few years since I presented at a conference. Yesterday I submitted an abstract for this year’s ASOR conference in Chicago, IL. If accepted, this will be the first time I present results from my own fieldwork. The paper will discuss the results of two months of surveying I did in the Wadi al-Feid, southern Jordan. Here’s the abstract I submitted; and here’s hoping it’s accepted!
“Intensive survey of the Wadi al-Feid, Jordan and the archaeology of small-scale farming and pastoral nomadism,” by Kyle A. Knabb, Thomas E. Levy and Mohammad Najjar
Wadi al-Feid borders the southern region of Jordan’s Faynan district. Situated between two important ‘core’ settlement areas, Faynan and Petra, the survey results provide unique insight into settlement patterns on the periphery. Though the area had been investigated briefly by archaeologists, our 2009 survey was the first systematic archaeological survey of the wadi.
Our study of the Wadi al-Feid has shown two major trends: 1) this marginal area was used extensively as a route between the Arabah valley and the eastern Mountains, and 2) this region was occupied by mobile groups and small-scale farmers. The results indicate settlement began in the late Iron Age, oscillating in density and size through the present. Wadi al-Feid is one of a few wadis in the region with a perennial spring; a critical resource in dryland environments. It was also one of the routes between the highland Plateau and the Wadi Arabah, known by the Bedouin today as Naqb Shdayid. In an area with such rugged terrain, people had to invest significant resources to build, maintain, and protect their settlements, agricultural fields, and trade routes.
By using an intensive survey methodology our project recorded 123 sites in an area of ca. 10 km2. Clear evidence of small-scale farming was observed for the Nabatean/Roman period through the Islamic periods. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that the remains of nomadic sites and landscape features survive and can be recovered. Doing so requires a systematic and intensive survey methodology that is not commonly employed in Near Eastern archaeology.