Status: Ongoing

Funding: Scientific Research Fund (Jordan)

The Jordan Rift Valley margins were always the focus of settlement in Jordan. Many factors have contributed to this, but two stand out in this regard. The first is that the most reliable sources of water, in the form of springs, are found there. Aquifers that receive their recharge in the higher plateau are exposed here, and hence the discharge. The second is that major trade routes had to pass through these areas, connecting the inland areas with the sea and the northern rift valley (and Syria) with the southern rift (and the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea). The nature of the rift valley margins is unstable due to continuous uplift due to tectonic movements and continuous down cutting due to both permanent and seasonal stream flows. This creates challenges related to changing of surface levels, loss of fertile soils, landslides, flash floods washing away roads and buildings, among others. Moreover, these regions were sensitive to climate changes, especially as they related to the reliability of spring water. In order to cope with these challenges, various strategies were employed to mitigate the dangers and harness the potential of these areas. These included control of surface flow, terracing, crop choices, settlement strategies and social adaptations. In turn, these strategies have had a profound effect on the current landscape. In this project, selected sites in the Petra region of southern Jordan will be chosen for extensive studies, in order to understand how people managed the landscape through time. The study will seek to understand the timing and nature of the major interventions in the area as well as their short and long term impacts of these interventions on the landscape. Studies of botanical remains will also be done to understand the crop choices and their relationships to climatic changes that effected the area.