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Table of Contents for Near Eastern Archaeology 80:2 (June 2017)

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Pp. 48–72: “Exploring the Badia,” by Alison Betts

The east Jordan badia is a fascinating but difficult landscape, an attribute that has protected the record of its historic and prehistoric past to an extraordinary degree. It is rich in rock art, graves, hunting traps, seasonal settlements and fortified sites that have remained almost undisturbed for thousands of years. Archaeological exploration of this region has also been slow, primarily due to the challenges of work in this rocky, semiarid region. However, the past few decades have seen a surge in new research that continues to uncover unexpected and remarkable aspects of the history of the badia. This article outlines the history of exploration and research in the badia and its historical significance.

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Pp. 74–83: “Historical Imagery of Desert Kites in Eastern Jordan,” by Emily Hammer and Anthony Lauricella

Large mass-kill hunting traps known as desert kites are the badia’s most visually striking and long-studied archaeological features. Kites are best understood from a vertical perspective with help from aerial and satellite imagery, most commonly modern Google Earth imagery. The declassification of historical U2 spy-plane imagery from 1958–1960 provides a new dataset with which to reexamine kites and their spatial distribution. The distribution of desert kites as it appeared over fifty years ago has been mapped, allowing us to draw conclusions about the long-term preservation of kites and the relationship of kites to each other and to their environment.

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Pp. 84–93: “The Badia from Above: Successes, Limitations, and Potential,” by Robert Bewley and Rebecca Repper

Aerial photography and reconnaissance for archaeology was pioneered in the Middle East a century ago. This article highlights the work of the Aerial Archaeology Project in the northern and eastern badia of Jordan since 1997—the only aerial archaeology project outside Europe. The achievements of aerial reconnaissance in understanding the complex and concentrated archaeology of the badia as well as the importance of collaboration with other archaeologists are emphasized.

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Pp. 94–101: “The Late Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic in the Jordanian Badia: Recent Fieldwork around the Qa’ Shubayqa,” by Tobias Richter

Until recently the late Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic occupation of Jordan’s eastern badia was poorly understood and developments in this region were considered as secondary to those in the Jordan Valley or elsewhere. Recent fieldwork in the Qa’ Shubayqa are has led to the discovery of a dense cluster of late Epipalaeolithic and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) sites, which shed a different light on this phase of human settlement in eastern Jordan. This evidence demonstrates that the eastern badia was not a peripheral region during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, but an intensively settled region.

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Pp. 102–113: “The Late Neolithic Presence in the Black Desert,” by Yorke M. Rowan, Gary Rollefson, Alexander Wasse, Austin “Chad” Hill, and Morag M. Kersel

Major cultural transformations took place in the southern Levant during the late prehistoric periods (ca. mid-seventh through fourth millenna b.c.e.). General syntheses rarely include more than cursory mention of the more arid regions of the southern Levant (Negev, eastern and southern Jordan). The Eastern Badia Archaeological Project [EBAP] study area comprises a west–east transect across the southern part of the eastern badia, selected to include a variety of ecological zones. To date, this field research project has focused on two primary study areas in the Black Desert in Jordan’s panhandle: Wisad Pools and Wadi al-Qattafi. In both areas, excavation combined with pedestrian and aerial survey record an apparent florescence of building and intensive exploitation of the landscape that contradicts previous assumptions that the region was used only intermittently by late prehistoric people. The many substantial well-constructed Late Neolithic buildings, evidence for trees and marshy plants, and extensive systems of kites seem to suggest that, rather than a virtually empty region, the Black Desert was once rich in animals, plants and people.

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Pp. 114–123: “Droning on in the Badia: UAVs and Site Documentation at Wadi al-Qattafi,” by Austin “Chad” Hill and Yorke Rowan

Drones, or Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are quickly changing approaches to archaeological mapping. They are effective tools for documenting smaller ancient features that might be missed by the resolution limitations of satellite imagery. As part of the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project, this article presents the preliminary results of a large-scale aerial survey of Wadi al-Qattafi, Jordan undertaken to map the kites and smaller features concentrated around and on top of the basalt mesas in the area. A combination of fixed and rotary wing aircraft was used to record approximately 20,000 images across 32 square kilometers of the survey area. The resulting orthophotographs and digital elevation models (DEMs) provide a high-resolution recording of the landscape. Ultimately this allows for mapping and identification of even the smallest anthropogenic features, as well as an analysis of how larger features were constructed to utilize local topography.
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Pp. 124–131: “The Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age Hillfort Phenomenon in the Northern Badia,” by Bernd Müller-Neuhof

The basalt and limestone desert of the Jawa hinterland in NE Jordan has been the focus of intensive archaeological research for the past six years. Surveys revealed abundant evidence for Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age activities in this region. The preliminary results of these investigations have already led to a change in the earlier perception of this region and especially the basalt desert. Among the major discoveries are the identification of several hillfort sites in the basalt desert, which suggest a permanent occupation in this arid region. In addition, evidence for artificial irrigation with rainwater harvesting in the vicinity of these settlements underscores the potential for agriculture in this region. Soundings and excavations recovered several 14C dates from these sites, which prove a Late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age I occupation.

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Pp. 132–139: “Nothing but Cold Ashes? The Cairn Burials of Jebel Qurma, Northeastern Jordan,” by Peter M.M.G. Akkermans and Merel L. Brüning

Throughout the basaltic uplands of northeastern Jordan, there are countless large and small mounds of stone (cairns), which are the burial places of people who roamed the desert many hundreds or thousands of years ago. These numerous graves have never been systematically investigated, and little is known about their construction, date, and variability, let alone about their deceased occupants. This picture is now changing owing to an ongoing program of survey and excavation in the Jebel Qurma region, close to the border of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. These investigations point towards complex and entangled arrangements of cairn use and mortuary practices over time, when Early Bronze Age cemeteries are replaced by singular, impressive tower tombs and conical ring cairns in the Hellenistic to Byzantine period. The reuse of these tombs is a recurrent feature, emphasizing the focal and enduring role of these monuments to both the dead and the living.

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