Fatimid Rural Settlement Patterns at the SAAs

It’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted, but here’s one for the new year. My friend, Ian Jones and I are presenting a paper at the SAA conference in Honolulu this April, on Fatimid and Crusader (11th-12th centuries CE) rural settlement patterns in southern Jordan. I’m really looking forward to analyzing the pottery from the 2009 survey of Wadi Feidh we conducted. The assemblage is a mish-mash of assorted coarse handmade wares, typically of very poor quality. It’s a true labor of love!

Abstract: “New evidence for Fatimid period rural settlement in southern Jordan” 

Historical accounts of the Fatimid and Crusader periods describe continued settlement and lively commercial activity in southern Jordan. Despite this, archaeological projects have been relatively unsuccessful in identifying sites from the corresponding Middle Islamic I period (11th-12th c. CE). To address this lacuna, our paper will present evidence for rural settlement during the 11th and early 12th centuries CE based on survey results from the Wadi al-Feidh, within the Petra region of southern Jordan. We suggest that the perceived lull in settlement can be explained by five main factors: the difficulty identifying pottery from this period; a corresponding tendency to lump all handmade pottery into the later Ayyubid/Mamluk period (late 12th-16th c. CE); survey bias; hyper-regionalization in ceramic types and settlement patterns; and a lack of excavated sites for this period. We argue that the settlement pattern during the Middle Islamic I in Wadi al-Feidh represents a continuation of occupation and olive cultivation that began during classical times. These results fill a long-standing gap in our knowledge of Islamic archaeology in the southern Levant.

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