Environmental reconstruction      

Past Hydrological variability in the Badia of Jordan


Matt Jones, Sarah Metcalfe,

Khaled Tarawneh, Tobias Richter


The Middle East has an exceptionally long and rich history of human habitation. Knowledge of hydrological variability through time is vital in understanding the possible environmental controls on human occupation and abandonment in the region as well as socio-cultural change during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.

Such knowledge is scarce in the Jordanian Badia. A continuous sedimentary archive of environmental change exists within lake basins across Jordan and this project aims to establish the first detailed proxy records of hydrological change in the Badia.

A dammed wadi at the site of Qasr Burqu’ contains water all year round and may contain a continuous record of hydrological change over the last 2 millennia in the Eastern Dessert. In the Azraq basin we have taken core samples as well as samples from marginal sections currently being investigated as part of the 'Ayn Qasiyah Epipalaeolithic Project (AQEP). Lake sediments in the district of Ma'an will be dated to add to evidence of past humid periods in southern Jordan.


Jones, M.D. 2013 What do we mean by wet? Geoarchaeology and the reconstruction of water availability. Quaternary International 308-309, 76-79. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2012.12.015

Richter, T., Maher, L., Edinborough, K., Jones, M.D., Garrard, A.N. and Stock, J.T. in press Epipalaeolithic Settlement Dynamics in southwest Asia: New Evidence from Radiocarbon ages in the Azraq Basin, Jordan. Journal of Quaternary Science 28, 467-479 doi:10.1002/jqs.2629

Maher, L.A., Richter, T, Macdonald, D, Jones, M, Martin, L. and Stock, J.T. 2012 Twenty Thousand-Year-Old Huts at a Hunter-Gatherer Settlement in Eastern Jordan PLoS-ONE 7(2): e31447. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031447

Jones, M.D. and Richter, T.2011 Palaeoclimatic and archaeological implications of Pleistocene and Holocene environments in Azraq, Jordan. Quaternary Research 76, 363-372  doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2011.07.005

Maher L, Richter T, Stock J, Jones M (In press) Preliminary Results from Recent Excavations at the Epipalaeolithic Site of Kharaneh IV. In: Khraysheh F and Rollefson G, (Eds). Jordan's Prehistory: Past and Future Research. Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Amman.

Richter, T., Allcock, S., Jones, M., Maher, L., Martin, L., Stock, J. and Thorne, B. 2010. New Light on Final Pleistocene Settlement Diversity in the Azraq Basin (Jordan): Recent Excavations at 'Ayn Qasiyya. Palèorient 35, p. 47-66.

Richter, T., Colledge, S., Luddy, S., Jones, D., Jones, M., Maher, L. and Kelly, R. 2007 Preliminary report on the 2006 season at Epipalaeolithic Ayn Qasiyah, Azraq es-Shishan. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 51, 313-328.

Jones, M.D. 2007. Hydrological variability in the Badia. Bulletin of the Council for British Research in the Levant 2, 46-48.




The Council for British Research in the Levant, Royal Geographical Society and the Badia Research and Development Center provided funds and logistical support to make this work possible. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature kindly gave us permission to work within the Azraq Wetland Reserve.


Last updated 16 December, 2013


 Sampling lake sediments in Ma'an

OSL sampling at Azraq

Coring at Burqu

Playing at being an archaeologist (photo: EFAP)