Human Paleoecology in the Ancient Metal-Smelting and Farming Complex in the Wadi Faynan, SW Jordan, at the Desert Margin in the Middle East

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter reviews existing information, describes new geoarchaeological evidence and from this infers aspects of the human paleoecology and land use in a landscape heavily affected by millennia of metal-winning and metal-processing in the Wadi Faynan and its tributaries in southwest Jordan. The Wadi Faynan lies in an ecotonal position on the margins between the warm desertic Wadi ‘Araba and the Jordanian uplands, which are characterized by steppe and at high altitude, Mediterranean dry forest. It was a key Middle Eastern industrial center from the early 3rd millennium BC to the Byzantine period (Barker et al. 2007a; Hauptmann 2007). The metal industry in the Faynan has considerable time depth, since in the Neolithic, before smelting started; the brightly-colored copper ores were extracted for ornamental purposes and cosmetics. The environment in the Wadi Faynan was harsh by any standards, and resources were difficult to access and extract. Metal-winning and metal-processing causes multiple, more or less severe impacts on the environment, which vary depending on the location and nature of the site. The highly-polluted environment is known to have caused severe health impacts (Grattan et al. 2002). Yet in spite of these difficulties, during several millennia people lived and extracted copper in the Wadi Faynan. This chapter describes and examines evidence of how these ancient miners, metal workers and farmers lived at the desert margin and amidst the industrial pollution.

Keywords

Lower Cambrian Field System Roman Period Metal Worker Cereal Pollen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank all the members of the Faynan Project for their cooperation, particularly Professors Graeme Barker, David Gilbertson, John Grattan and David Mattingley. We also thank the directors and employees of the Department of Antiquities, Jordan, the RSCN, Jordan and the CBRL for permissions and logistical support and the many funding bodies, including the Libyan Government’s Postgraduate Studentship programme, the British Academy, the CBRL and the Society of Antiquaries.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology & PalaeoecologyQueen’s University BelfastBelfast BT7 1NNUK

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