Go to the Students section
Go to the Staff section
Go to the Alumni section
Go to the Study here section
Go to the International section
Go to the About section
Go to the Research section
Go to the Business and Employers section
Go to the Support us section
Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
The Deep Past as a Social Asset in the Levant (DEEPSAL) project, conducted in 2015–16 by the Council for British Research in the Levant, examined two communities in southern Jordan, Beidha and Basta, who live near significant Neolithic archaeological sites. The project collected information on the communities’ current socioeconomic conditions, their relationship with local cultural heritage and how that cultural heritage currently benefits or hinders them. The information was used to inform nascent strategies to utilize the sites sustainably as development assets and suggest alternative strategies as necessary. The results showed that a tourism-based strategy is suitable for Beidha but there was a need to focus on basic business skills. For Basta a tourism-based strategy is currently unsuitable, and efforts should rather focus on supporting educational activities. The results of the project are presented here within the context of archaeology’s increasing interest to use archaeological resource to benefit local communities, and outlines lessons for that effort.
Les fouilles de Kirkbride à Beidha dans le sud de la Jordanie ont fourni des données essentielles sur l’occupation villageoise du Néolithique Pré-Céramique ancien, qui continuent à influencer profondément les recherches sur l’évolution de l’organisation sociale lors du passage d’une économie de prédation (chasse, ceuillette) à une économie de production (élevage, agriculture). Les recherches plus récentes sur le Néolithique permettent une nouvelle mise en contexte de ces premiers résultats, en particulier au regard des distinctions régionales et de la longue histoire de l’occupation villageoise et le développement d’une architecture communautaire dans le sud de la Jordanie au cours du Néolithique Pré-Céramique A. Les travaux de terrain effectués à Beidha en 2014 ont en particulier mis l’accent sur l’étude du premier bâtiment communautaire identifié sur le site, qui n’avait été jusqu’ici que partiellement fouillé par Kirkbride. Les résultats de ces nouvelles fouilles, complétés par des datations radiocarbone, nous permettent de resituer Beidha dans le contexte Néolithique local et de mieux comprendre comment s’est développée cette société du Néolithique ancien. = Kirkbride’s excavations at Beidha in southern Jordan provided foundational information on early Pre-Pottery Neolithic settlement that continues to heavily influence research investigating the evolution of social organization associated with the transition from foraging to farming. More recent research on the Neolithic has provided a rich context for her work, in particular regarding the regionally distinctive and long history of settlement and developments in communal architecture during the southern Jordanian Pre-Pottery Neolithic A. In 2014, additional fieldwork was conducted at Beidha targeting the earliest communal building identified, but only partially excavated by Kirkbride. The results of this new excavation, together with some additional radiocarbon dates, enable us to place Beidha within the local Neolithic historical context and to improve our interpretation of how early Neolithic society developed.
The emergence of food production during the earliest Neolithic of the Near East was accompanied by profound changes in the ways in which societies were organized. Elaborate and multi-stage mortuary practices involving the removal, caching, and plastering of symbolically charged skulls are thought to have played an important role in cross-cutting household lines to integrate communities and maintain social cohesion during the late tenth to ninth millennium cal BP, particularly in Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B settlements located in the southern Levant. While the ritual and mortuary activities associated with skull manipulation were dramatic and high impact occasions that drew people and households together, it is likely they were highly episodic and, consequently, attendant community cohesion susceptible to decay over time. Recent research in southern Jordan, where skull plastering was not practiced as seen elsewhere in the southern Levant, has revealed that non-residential building structures were a common feature of early Pre-Pottery Neolithic settlements. Renewed excavations at Beidha, a Middle PPNB settlement located in the Shara’a mountains, have revealed a large, easily accessible communal structure that provided a focal point in which mundane, informal daily activities could regularly take place. The routine and repeated interactions fostered by such non-domestic structures facilitated highly durable modes of community cohesion and was part of a temporally deep ethos of community that first emerged a thousand years earlier when people first began to experiment with plant cultivation. It appears that in southern Jordan, a distinctive social cohesion pathway developed that engaged community daily practice within non-residential buildings to maintain and strengthen social structures, rather than occasional and dramatic ritual and mortuary practices used elsewhere in the southern Levant.