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The Garden of Edom: Mining and Ancient Landscape Management in Southern Jordan

October 2, 2018

TBA (Tucson)
Tucson, AZ

AIA Society: Tucson

Lecturer: Brita Lorentzen

The Faynan region in southern Jordan today is largely an arid desert-steppic environment that hardly resembles a lush forested paradise.  Yet, the region supported large-scale copper mining and production over the course of two millennia from the Iron Age (12th century BC) into the Middle Islamic Period (mid-13th century AD).  Faynan’s inhabitants needed large quantities of wood to fuel the copper industry, so how did they manage to do it?  This lecture examines different strategies that Faynan’s inhabitants used over time to collect fuel and manage the landscape, using new data from archaeological excavation and survey, and especially wood charcoal data collected and analyzed as part of the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeological Project (ELRAP).  These results reveal that effective use of Faynan’s local vegetation, hydrology, and geology could not only provide sufficient fuel for copper production, but even allowed cultivation of fruit trees like pomegranates, olives, and grapes.  I also discuss how copper mining and production, and accompanying landscape use and management–which had varying levels of sustainability–impacted Faynan’s environment over the long term, and their lasting ecological legacy.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

  • Ben-Yosef, E., Levy, T.E., Higham, T., Najjar, M., Tauxe, L., 2010. The Beginning of Iron Age Copper Production in the Southern Levant: New Evidence from Khirbat al-Jariya, Faynan, Jordan. Antiquity 84 (325): 724–746.
  • Engel, T. and Frey., W., 1996. Fuel Resources for Copper Smelting in Antiquity in Selected Woodlands in the Edom Highlands to the Wadi Arabah/Jordan. Flora 191: 29–39.
  • Jones, I.W.N., Levy, T.E., Najjar, M., 2012. Khirbat Nuqayb al-Asaymir and Middle Islamic Metallurgy in Faynan: Surveys of Wadi al-Ghuwayb and Wadi al-Jariya in Faynan, Southern Jordan. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 368: 67–108.
  • Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeological Project (ELRAP) website:

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October 2, 2018
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Luke Kaiser


TBA (Tucson)
Tucson, AZ
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