Research in the Eastern Desert of Jordan
2011 and 2012
Prof. Garry Rollefson, Whitman College
|Man made structures in the vicinity of Wisad Pools. Structure W-66 indicated. APAAME_20080909_DLK-0361. Photographer: David L Kennedy. Click to enlarge.|
|Structure W-66. Photograph courtesy of Gary Rollefson.|
|Bird's eye view of excavated structure SS-11. Photograph courtesy of Gary Rollefson.|
|Corbeled dwellings in the vicinity of SS-11.|
Photographer: David L. Kennedy. Click to enlarge.
|Frontal view of structure SS-11. Photograph courtesy of Gary Rollefson.|
What the 2011 season and the one from 2012 indicate, there is no doubt that the bleak and barren landscapes that Google Earth and APAAME depict were not the case for the 7th millennium BC. It is possible that many of the small buildings at the feet of the northern and southern slopes of M-4, as well as the space between M5 and M-7, may in fact constitute small and even medium-sized semi-permanent Late Neolithic villages. Soils in the region during the Late Neolithic occupations were capable of absorbing and storing winter rainfall, resulting in more luxurious seasonal pasturage for sheep and goat herds. But it was the persistent overgrazing of increasing herd sizes of sheep that eventually exposed the soils to wind deflation, creating the forbidding landscape we see today. When did this tipping point occur? More excavation will provide some of the answers.
|Wider landscape showing potential small buildings at the feet of M-4, M-5 and M-7; a possible Late Neolithic village. APAAME_20081102_DLK-0241. Photographer: David L. Kennedy. Click to enlarge.|
Dr. Gary Rollefson is Professor of Anthropology at Whitman College, Walla Walla in the United States, specialising in Near Eastern prehistoric archaeology. He has worked collaboratively with colleagues from around the world on prehistoric sites in Jordan, including 'Ain Soda, 'Ain Ghazal, Wadi Rum, and now in the eastern desert of Jordan.