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Shubayqa Archaeological Project

Location: Jordan

July 31, 2014 to August 31, 2014

Session dates: 
Single session

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 21, 2014

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Copenhagen and the Institute for Field Research

Project Director:

Dr. Tobias Richter, University of Copenhagen

Project Description

The Shubayqa Archaeological Project investigates the transition from hunting & gathering to agriculture in the Harra desert of Jordan.  In particular, this project investigates the relationship between the Younger Dryas – a global climatic event that led to cooler temperatures and decreased rainfall – and the beginning of agriculture. The project area is the remote, rugged Shubayqa basin, a 12 km2 playa situated c. 130 km northeast of the Jordanian capital Amman.  In 2014 the project will continue its excavations at the late Natufian site of Shubayqa 1, while also launching excavations at the early Neolithic site Shubayqa 6 nearby. Furthermore, we will continue with our landscape survey of the surrounding area to discover additional sites, and carry out geoarchaeological sampling across the Shubayqa basin to study past environmental conditions. In addition, we will be processing and analyzing finds, and conducting some ethnographic fieldwork to better understand the use of the Badia by modern-day Bedouin pastoralists.

Period(s) of Occupation: Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full program length

Minimum age: 
18 years old

Experience required: 
No previouse experiance required

Room and Board Arrangements

For the first three days we will be staying at the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman. During those days students will attend a number of lectures about the project, fieldwork methods and the archaeology of the region. We will also visit the National Museum of Jordan and do a fieldtrip to the Roman city of Jerash.
We will then depart for the Harra desert, which is about a 3 hour drive from Amman. We will be staying in rented houses in Safawi, the town nearest to the research area. Accommodation will be pretty basic with everyone sharing sleeping quarters and bathrooms. Water supply is limited so that participants must try to conserve water wherever possible – having a long shower every day will not be possible. Each morning the field team will depart early to make the 1 hour drive to the research site, while the house team will stay back to process finds and samples.
We will hire an experienced dig cook who prepares basic, but tasty meals three times a day. The field team will take their second breakfast in the field. We can cater for most dietary requirements, including vegetarians.
The field school will conclude with a visit to the Nabatean city of Petra where we will be staying in a hotel.


All room and board costs are included in tuition

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units)


Contact Information
Institute for Field Research
1855 Industrial St. #106
Los Angeles
424 226-6130
Recommended Bibliography: 

Bar-Yosef, O. 1996. "The impact of late Pleistocene-early Holocene climatic changes on humans in southwest Asia." Humans at the end of the Ice Age: The archaeology of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition 61-76

Bar-Yosef, O., and R.H. Meadow. 1995. ‘The Origins of Agriculture in the Near East’. In Last Hunters-first Farmers:" New Perspectives on the Prehistoric Transition to Agriculture, edited by T.D. Price and A.B. Gebauer, 39–94. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

Bar-Yosef, O. & Belfer-Cohen, A. 2000. "Early sedenstism in the Near East: a bumby ride to village life." Life in Neolithic farming communities. Social organization, identity, and differentiation 19-62

Betts, A.V.G. 1991. "The late Epipalaeolithic in the Black Desert, eastern Jordan." The Natufian Culture in the Levant 217-234.

Blockley, S.P.E. & Pinhasi, R. 2011. "A revised chronology for the adoption of agriculture in the Southern Levant and the role of Lateglacial climatic change." Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 98-108

Garrard, A.N., D. Baird, and B.F. Byrd. 1994. "The Chronological Basis and Significance of the Late Palaeolithic and Neolithic Sequence in the Azraq Basin, Jordan." In Late Quarternary Chronology and Paleoclimates of the Eastern Mediterranean, edited by O. Bar-Yosef and R.S. Kra, 177–199. Ann Arbor: Radiocarbon.

Garrard, A.N. 1998. "Environment and cultural adaptations in the Azraq Basin: 24,000 - 7,000 B.P." The Prehistory of Jordan 139-148.

Garrard, A.N. 1991. "Natufian settlement in the Azraq Basin, eastern Jordan." The Natufian culture in the Levant 235-244.

Maher, L.A., Banning, E.B. & Chazan, M. 2011. "Oasis or Mirage? Assessing the Role of." Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21, 1-30

Moore, A.M.T. a G.C.H. 1992. "The Pleistocene to Holocene transition and human economy in southwest Asia: the impact of the Younger Dryas." American Antiquity 57, 482-494

Richter, T. and L. Maher. In press. "The Late Epipalaeolithic in the Azraq Basin: a reappraisal." In Bar-Yosef, O. and F.R. Valla (eds.) Natufian Foragers in the Levant. Terminal Pleistocene Social Changes in Western Asia. International Monographs in Prehistory, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 429-448

Richter, T., L. Bode, M. House, R. Iversen, A. Arranz, I. Saehle, G. Thaarup, M.-L- Tvede and L. Yeomans. 2012. "Excavations at the Late Epipalaeolithic Site of Shubayqa 1: Preliminary Report on the First Season." Neo-Lithics 2/12, 3-14

Robinson, S.A. 2006. "A review of palaeoclimates and palaeoenvironments in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean from 25,000 to 5000 years B.P: setting the environmental background for the evolution of human civilisation." Quaternary Science Reviews 25, 1517-1541

Simmons, A.H. 2007. The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East: Transforming the Human Landscape. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press. Chapter 4

Valla, F.R. 1995. "The First Settled Societies - Natufian (12,500-10,200 BP)." In The Archaeology of the Holy Land, edited by T. Levy, 169–190. London: Leicester University press.