Human Adaptation in Climatically Marginal Environments of late-5th to 3rd Millennium BC Syria and Jordan

01 April 2017 → 31 March 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Landscape archaeology
environment Comparative Geographic and map based Quantitative Surveys Field research Prehistory (Stone Age) Protohistory (Bronze Age, Iron Age) Middle East Archaeology
Project description

The late-5th to 3rd millennium BC saw complex dynamics in nomadic and settled lifestyles in the semi-arid and arid steppe regions of Syria and Jordan, when large, often fortified cities emerged in several areas, while nomadic practices waxed and waned. To survive in these climatically uncertain environments of low and strongly fluctuating rainfall, populations in the steppe needed to constantly adapt their subsistence methods, leading to subsequent impacts on their social, economic, and political organisations. This project examines the origins and effects of human activity in these landscapes during this period, its variant forms, and causal factors, by conducting a holistic examination of the Syrian-Jordanian steppe using satellite imagery, elevation data, aerial photographs, and maps. This is supplemented by existing and future archaeological excavation and survey fieldwork on the ground from three case-study regions: northeastern Syria, western-central Syria, and northeastern Jordan. Many of the results from this past fieldwork have only recently been made available, making this the ideal time for conducting such research. The added bonus of an archaeological surface survey specifically oriented to this project from my own fieldwork in northeastern Jordan further benefits the study. Such an investigation of the societal effects of adapting to climatically marginal environments has ramifications and potential solutions for future challenges in similar conditions.