Desert Tombs: Recent Research into the Bronze Age and Iron Age Cairn Burials of Jebel Qurma, North-East Jordan

Authors

  • Peter Akkermans Professor of Near eastern Archaeology
  • Merel L. Brüning
  • Monique Arntz
  • Sarah A. Inskip
  • Keshia A.N. Akkermans

Keywords:

Harra, Jordan, Burial cairns, Bronze Age, Iron Age

Abstract

Burial cairns dot the basaltic uplands of north-eastern Jordan, yet these graves have never been investigated systematically. This situation is now changing. Current excavations in the Jebel Qurma region, close to the borders of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have focused on the numerous cairns as well as their complex histories of use. This project identified different types of burial, including ring cairns, round and apsidal tower tombs, and cist graves. Radiocarbon dates, OSL dates, and grave inventories date the cairns to the Bronze Age and, in particular, the Iron Age. Through extensive survey and excavation in the area, this paper brings to light entirely new insights into the mortuary practices of Jordan’s north-eastern badia.

References

Akkermans P.M.M.G. 2019. Living on the edge or forced into the margins? Hunter-herders in Jordan’s north-eastern badlands in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 7: 412-431.

Akkermans P.M.M.G. & Brüning M.L. 2017. Nothing but cold ashes? The cairn burials of Jebel Qurma, northeastern Jordan. Near Eastern Archaeology 80: 132–139.

Akkermans P.M.M.G. & Brüning M.L. 2020. A Late Roman pastoralist ironworking site in the north-eastern Black Desert, Jordan. Pages 103–119 in A. Ahrens, D. Rokitta-Krumnow, F. Bloch & C. Bührig (eds), Pulling the threads together: Studies in honour of Karin Bartl. Münster: Zaphon Publishers.

Akkermans P.M.M.G. & Huigens H.O. 2018. Long-term settlement trends in Jordan’s north-eastern Badia: The Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 59: 503–515.

Akkermans P.M.M.G., Huigens H.O. & Brüning M.L. 2014. A landscape of preservation: Late prehistoric settlement and sequence in the Jebel Qurma region, north-eastern Jordan. Levant 46: 186–205.

Beherec M.A. 2011. Nomads in transition: Mortuary archaeology in the lowlands of Edom (Jordan). PhD thesis, University of California San Diego. [Unpublished.]

Betts A., Cooke L., Garrard A., McCartney C. & Reese D. 2013. Late Neolithic sites in the harra. Pages 13–51 in A.V.G. Betts (ed.), The later prehistory of the badia. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Bloxman E. 2006. Miners and mistresses: Middle Kingdom mining on the margins. Journal of Social Archaeology 6: 277–303.

Boessneck J. 1995. Birds, reptiles and amphibians. Pages 129–168 in O.E LaBianca & A. von den Driesch (eds), Faunal remains: Taphonomical and zooarchaeological studies of the animal remains from Tell Hesban and vicinity. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Boschloos V. 2012. Late Bronze Age cornelian and red jasper scarabs with cross designs. Egyptian, Levantine or Minoan? Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 4: 5–16.

Bradbury J. & Scarre C. (eds). 2017. Engaging with the dead: Exploring changing human beliefs about death, mortality and the human body. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Brusgaard N.Ø. 2019. Carving interactions — Rock art in the nomadic landscape of the Black Desert, north-eastern Jordan. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Chesson M.S. & Schaub R.T. 2007. Death and dying on the Dead Sea plain: Fifa, al- Khanazir and Bab adh-Dhraʿ cemeteries. Pages 253–260 in T.E. Levy, P.M.M. Daviau, R.W. Younker & M. Shaer (eds), Crossing Jordan: North American contributions to the archaeology of Jordan. London: Equinox Press.

Clark A. 1981. Archaeological excavations at two burial cairns in the harra region of Jordan. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 25: 235–265.

Cross F.M. & Milik J.T. 1956. A typological study of the El Khadr javelin- and arrow-heads. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 3: 15–23.

Della Puppa C. (forthcoming). The Safaitic scripts — An ethno-palaeographic investigation. PhD thesis, Leiden University.

de Maigret A. 2009. Arabia Felix — An exploration of the archaeological history of Yemen. London: Stacey International.

Drauschke J. 2010. Byzantine jewellery? Amethyst beads in east and west during the Early Byzantine period. Pages 50–60 in C. Entwistle (ed.), ‘Intelligible beauty’: Recent research on Byzantine jewellery. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Gottlieb Y. 2004. The weaponry of the Assyrian attack. Section A: the arrowheads and some aspects of the course of the Lachish siege battle. Pages 1907–1969 in D. Ussishkin (ed.), The renewed excavations at Lachish, 1974–1994. Tel Aviv: Mery and Claire Yass Publications in Archaeology.

Gottlieb Y. 2016. Beer-Sheba under attack: A study of arrowheads and the story of the destruction of the Iron Age settlement. Pages 1192–1228 in Z. Herzog & L. Singer-Avitz (eds), Beer-Sheba III: The Early Iron IIA enclosed settlement and the Late Iron IIA–IIB cities. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Gourichon L. 2002. Bird remains from Jerf El Ahmar: A PPNA site in northern Syria with special reference to the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus). Pages 138–152 in H. Buitenhuis, A.M. Choyke, M. Mashkour & A.H. Al-Shiyab (eds), Archaeozoology of the Near East V. Groningen: ARC Publications.

Harding G.L. 1953. The cairn of Hani. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 2: 8–56.

Harding G.L. 1978. The cairn of Sa’d. Pages 243–249 in R. Moorey & P. Parr (eds), Archaeology in the Levant. Warminster: Aris & Phillips.

Huigens H.O. 2019. Mobile peoples — permanent places. Nomadic landscapes and stone architecture from the Hellenistic to Early Islamic periods in north-eastern Jordan. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Kennedy D. 2011. The ‘works of the old men’ in Arabia: Remote sensing in interior Arabia. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 3185–3203.

Kennedy M.A. 2015. Life and death at Tell Umm Hamad, Jordan. A village landscape of the southern Levantine Early Bronze Age IV/Intermediate Bronze Age. Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 131: 1–28.

McMahon A. 2016. The encultured vulture: Late Chalcolithic sealing images and the challenges of urbanism in 4th millennium BC northern Mesopotamia. Paléorient 42: 177–191.

Maran J. 2004. The spreading of objects and ideas in the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean: Two case examples from the Argolid of the 13th and 12th centuries B.C. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 336: 11–30.

Milevski I. 2011. Early Bronze Age goods exchange in the southern Levant: A Marxist perspective. London: Routledge.

Müller-Neuhof B. 2014. A ‘marginal’ region with many options: The diversity of Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age socio-economic activities in the hinterland of Jawa. Levant 46: 230–248.

Oxtoby W.G. 1968. Some inscriptions of the Safaitic bedouin. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society.

Peters J. & Schmidt K. 2004. Animals in the symbolic world of pre-pottery Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey: A preliminary assessment. Anthropozoologica 39: 179–218.

Pillouda P.A., Haddow S.D., Knüsel C.J. & Spencer Larsen C. 2016. A bioarchaeological and forensic re-assessment of vulture defleshing and mortuary practices at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. Journal of Archaeological Science 10: 735–743.

Quintero L., Wilke P. & Rollefson G. 2002. From flint mine to fan scraper: The late prehistoric Jafr industrial complex. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 327: 17–48.

Rees L.W.B. 1929. The Transjordan desert. Antiquity 3: 389–407.

Richter T. 2014. Rescue excavations at a Late Neolithic burial cairn in the east Jordanian badya. Neo-Lithics 1/14: 18–24.

Rollefson G.O. 2013. Late prehistoric aggregation patterns in Jordan’s eastern badia. Syria 90: 211–230.

Rosen S.A. 1997. Lithics after the Stone Age. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Rowan Y.M., Rollefson G.O., Wasse A., Abu-Azizeh W., Hill A.C. & Kersel M.M. 2015a. The ‘land of conjecture’: New late prehistoric discoveries at Maitland’s Mesa and Wisad Pools, Jordan. Journal of Field Archaeology 40: 176–189.

Rowan Y., Wasse A., Rollefson G., Kersel M., Jones M. & Lorentzen B. 2015b. Late Neolithic architectural complexity at Wisad Pools, Black Desert. Neo-Lithics 1/15: 3–10.

Sala M. 2014. EB II–III Aegyptiaca east of the Jordan: A reevaluation of trade and cultural interactions between Egypt and the Transjordanian urban centres. Vicino Oriente 18: 65–81.

Schaub R.T. & Rast W. 1989. Bab edh-Dhra’: Excavations in the cemetery directed by Paul W. Lapp (1965–1967). Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Then-Obluska J. 2013. A few millimeters via thousands of kilometers: An Asian ‘etched’ carnelian bead in Early Makurian Nubia, Sudan. Mitteilungen der Sudanarchäologischen Gesellschaft 24: 117–123.

Tubb J.N., Henderson J.D. & Wright M.M. 1990. Excavations at the Early Bronze Age cemetery of Tiwal esh-Sharqi. London: British Museum Publications Ltd.

Vijgen T. 2019. Desert pots: Studying the technology, morphology, date and distribution of the pottery of the Jebel Qurma region, north-eastern Jordan, from the Bronze Age up until the present. RMA thesis, Leiden University. [Unpublished.]

Weeks L., Cable C., Franke K., Newton C., Karacic S., Roberts J. ... Zein H. 2017. Recent archaeological research at Saruq al-Hadid, Dubai, UAE. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 28: 31–60.

Winnett F.V. 1978. Inscriptions from fifty Safaitic cairns. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Wright K. & Garrard A. 2003. Social identities and the expansion of stone bead-making in Neolithic western Asia: New evidence from Jordan. Antiquity 77: 131–166.

Zutovski K., Yerkes R., Agam A., Wilson L., Getzov N., Milevski I. & Gopher A. 2016. A techno-typological analysis of fan (tabular) scrapers from Ein Zippori, Israel. Journal of Lithic Studies 3: 207–238.

Published

31/08/2020

How to Cite

Akkermans, P., Brüning, M. L., Arntz, M., Inskip, S. A., & Akkermans, K. A. (2020). Desert Tombs: Recent Research into the Bronze Age and Iron Age Cairn Burials of Jebel Qurma, North-East Jordan. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 50(1), 1–17. Retrieved from https://archaeopresspublishing.com/ojs/index.php/PSAS/article/view/298