Prehistoric Cultural Ecology In Southern Jordan

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Prehistoric Cultural Ecology in Southern Jordan

In the southern regions of Jordan, a country in the Middle East, surveys have shown an abundance of archaeological sites which date from the Palaeolithic to the Chalcolithic periods. These have been crucial in our understanding of cultural evolution; such was the emergence of horticulture, pastoralism and other modern behaviours. These sites have been able to give us a history of Jordan that spanned 700,000 years.

For areas was studied in by scholars between 1979 1988, spanning a total area of around 32 square kilometres. Apart from fall, each of the 109 sites were limited to a particular period. Numerous sites contained stratified occupations and controlled surface collections were performed at 35 sites. 32 sites were used as test sites and excavations were performed at six, from the middle Paleolithic, the upper Paleolithic, the Epipaleolithic and Chalcolithic occupations.

Archaeologists found over 167,430 chipped stone artefacts belonging to eight industries and 11 complexes. “Classification of assemblages into larger unit constructs was viewed as fundamental to (i) identifying prehistorical behavioural systems (that is, cultures) at some scale; (ii) linking such systems to environmental, economic and demographic data; (iii) establishing the variability within such systems (for example, site types); and (iv) examining diachronic changes within such systems in attempt to trace cultural evolution”.

When looking at the information yielded, there is much we can learn about the cultural ecologies in Southern Jordan. For example, in the Epipaleolithic, the Hamran-Natufian sequences occur over 6000 years. Site distributions and synchronous radiometric dates suggest that there was contact and socialisation between the neighbouring populations, but it is artefacts found that actually confirm this.

For example, in the Early Natufian period, the people used a specific geometric microlith that was later adopted by later Madamaghan groups. Again, the people from the Madamaghan period also adopted a distinct technological innovation, known as the microburin technique, from the Late and Final Hamran groups.

Climate change also contributed to the cultural evolution in prehistoric Jordan. The prehistoric people, in the harsh winters, would make their bases at elevations that would protect them from the freezing conditions during the night. In addition to this, the transition from hunter gathering to agriculture “incorporated into their annual ranges resource zones that were seasonally marginal. Although the resources in these zones were less abundant and predictable than those in the zones selected for intensive exploitation in the winter, wet season, their seasonal use would have relieved pressure on the optimum resource zones”.

The prehistoric cultural ecology of Southern Jordan allows us to understand the transition from time to time, from period to period, from people to people more fully and to gain a deeper insight into their lives.


Henry, Donald O. (1994) Prehistoric Cultural Ecology in Southern Jordan, Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science.


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