By Tobias Richter
This project investigates cultural and environmental landscape change in the Qa’ Shubayqa area of northeastern Jordan through archaeological surveys and excavations, as well as palaeoenvironmental studies. The Qa’ Shubayqa is a 12 km2 large drainage basin in Jordan’s northeastern Badya region. It is situated in the Harrat ash Sham basalt desert at the foothills of the Jebel Druze.
The Qa’ Shubayqa area preserves an astonishing diversity of archaeological sites dating from the Late Epipalaeolithic to the modern era. Excavations at the late Epipalaeolithic site Shubayqa 1 have produced evidence for one of the earliest sedentary sites in the region, with significant architecture and a well preserved botanical assemblage. Surveys around the Qa’ Shubayqa have produced evidence for desert kites, burial cairns, animal pens, encampments and an abandoned early Islamic village, as well as an early Neolithic site. Coring in the Qa’ Shubayqa mudlfats has begun to produce a sedimentary sequence providing clues about the changing environment of Jordan’s northeastern Badya through time. Together with data from excavated archaeological sites, this evidence will allow us to piece together a detailed local palaeoenvironmental sequence detailing climatic and environmental change and its impact on human communities through time.
In future years the project will make and inventory of the archaeological sites in the area using satellite images and pedestrian survey on the ground. Excavations will continue at the important Late Epipalaeolithic site Shubayqa 1 and new excavations starting in August 2014 will target the recently discovered early Neolithic site Shubayqa 6. Palaeoenvironmental studies will continue to sample the Qa’ Shubayqa mudflat to gain vital data on past climatic and environmental changes in this region.
In addition to these activities, the project is preparing to launch a community archaeology project in the local area, and will engage in ethnographic and oral history research in the local community. Through these excavations, surveys, palaeoenvironmental studies and ethnographic research the project aims to reconstruct the interaction between human societies, settlement and environmental change from the dawn of agriculture to the most recent times.
The project is based at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen and collaborates closely with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. It is sponsored by the Danish Institute in Damascus, the Frie Forskningsråd Kultur og Kommunikation, the Danish Council for Independent Research and the H.P. Hjerl Mindefondent for Dansk Palæstinaforskning. Collaborators include Dr Matthew Jones from the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham, as well as colleagues from University College London, University of Liverpool, University of California Berkley and University of Texas Austin.