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Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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This paper describes a new method for the assessment of palaeohydrology through the Holocene. A palaeoclimate model was linked with a hydrological model, using a weather generator to correct bias in the rainfall estimates, to simulate the changes in the flood frequency and the groundwater response through the late Pleistocene and Holocene for the Wadi Faynan in southern Jordan, a site considered internationally important due to its rich archaeological heritage spanning the Pleistocene and Holocene. This is the first study to describe the hydrological functioning of the Wadi Faynan, a meso-scale (241km2) semi-arid catchment, setting this description within the framework of contemporary archaeological investigations. Historic meteorological records were collated and supplemented with new hydrological and water quality data. The modelled outcomes indicate that environmental changes, such as deforestation, had a major impact on the local water cycle and this amplified the effect of the prevailing climate on the flow regime. The results also show that increased rainfall alone does not necessarily imply better conditions for farming and highlight the importance of groundwater. The discussion focuses on the utility of the method and the importance of the local hydrology to the sustained settlement of the Wadi Faynan through pre-history and history.
The broad picture of the cultural and chronological succession from the Epipalaeolithic to the Neolithic in the southern Levant is generally well understood. However, at a more detailed, local level, many questions remain unanswered. In this paper we examine the archaeological record of cultural developments in southern Jordan and the Negev. Focusing on a series of 14C dates from the early occupation of the PPNA site of WF16, we provide a critical review of dating evidence for the region. This review suggests that while the 14C chronology is ambiguous and problematic there is good evidence for a local historical development from the Harifian variant of the Natufian to the early PPNA, well to the south of any core Mediterranean woodland zone. This stresses the importance of considering developments at local scales of analysis, and that the Neolithic transition occurred within a framework of many interacting sub-regional provinces.
Recent excavations at Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) WF16 in southern Jordan have revealed remarkable evidence of architectural developments in the early Neolithic. This sheds light on both special purpose structures and -œdomestic- settlement, allowing fresh insights into the development of increasingly sedentary communities and the social systems they supported. The development of sedentary communities is a central part of the Neolithic process in Southwest Asia. Architecture and ideas of homes and households have been important to the debate, although there has also been considerable discussion on the role of communal buildings and the organization of early sedentarizing communities since the discovery of the tower at Jericho. Recently, the focus has been on either northern Levantine PPNA sites, such as Jerf el Ahmar, or the emergence of ritual buildings in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B of the southern Levant. Much of the debate revolves around a division between what is interpreted as domestic space, contrasted with -œspecial purpose- buildings. Our recent evidence allows a fresh examination of the nature of early Neolithic communities.
Palaeoproxy records alone are seldom sufficient to provide a full assessment of regional palaeoclimates. To better understand the possible changes in the Mediterranean climate during the Holocene, a series of palaeoclimate integrations for periods spanning the last 12 000 years have been performed and their results diagnosed. These simulations use the HadSM3 global climate model, which is then dynamically downscaled to approximately 50 km using a consistent regional climate model (HadRM3). Changes in the model's seasonal-mean surface air temperatures and precipitation are discussed at both global and regional scales, along with the physical mechanisms underlying the changes. It is shown that the global model reproduces many of the large-scale features of the mid-Holocene climate (consistent with previous studies) and that the results suggest that many areas within the Mediterranean region were wetter during winter with a stronger seasonal cycle of surface air temperatures during the early Holocene. This precipitation signal in the regional model is strongest in the in the northeast Mediterranean (near Turkey), consistent with low-level wind patterns and earlier palaeosyntheses. It is, however, suggested that further work is required to fully understand the changes in the winter circulation patterns over the Mediterranean region.
Research on the PPNA of southern Jordan at WF16 suggests that a distinct Late PPNA phase develops at this site. It is visible in changes in lithic assemblages and architecture. Similar changes appear to occur at other sites in southern Jordan dated late in the PPNA. At WF16, the one site that appears to be occupied throughout the PPNA, the chipped stone assemblage appears to evolve during the later stages of the occupation, confirming that the process of transition is locally derived. The main features of the transition visible in the chipped stone at WF16 are a technological change, with an increasing focus on blade manufacture, and some evidence for the development of a bi-directional knapping strategy, and a change in typology. The earlier PPNA material contains both microliths and el-Khiam points. By the Late PPNA both artefact types have completely disappeared from the assemblage. While the difference between early and Late PPNA assemblages are clear, part of the evidence for a local transition is the presence of an assemblage that is intermediary in character, and always stratified between the early and late material. The chipped stone from WF16 has never supported the division of the southern Levantine PPNA into a short Khiamian followed by a long Sultanian phase that is associated with the development of sedentism. At WF16, the early phase appears to encompass the greater part of the PPNA, and to be associated with architecture from its outset, while the Late phase is a relatively short lived. The chipped stone from this Late PPNA phase is sufficiently similar to the preceding PPNA, and dissimilar to the EPPNB elsewhere to continue to describe it as form of PPN. Some of the distinctive traits of this phase, especially in blade production, parallel EPPNB developments elsewhere, and indicate that the southern Jordanian trajectory does not occur in isolation, but is informed by wider processes. We argue that this Late PPNA develops, with influences from elsewhere in the Levant, in particular the incorporation of Naviform technology, into the distinctive MPPNB of southern Jordan and that very early MPPNB dates from Beidha and Shkarat Msaiad support this local trajectory.