The Neolithic in Southwest Asia is a key period in human history, best known for the cultural and socio-economic processes that lead to the transition from hunter-gatherer communities to sedentary farming societies. However, although this transition has been one of the most studied subjects in archaeology, it is still one of the least understood. The ephemeral nature of Neolithic sites and bad preservation of their biological remains make them difficult to interpret. This project aims to contribute to the study of the Neolithic in the Levant by developing a method that will maximize the information gained from Neolithic settlements, so that a better understanding of daily life during this important period can be reached.
This will be done by comparing phytolith and geochemical signatures found in soil samples from ethnographic and archaeological sources in Jordan, thereby evaluating the potential of this combined method in identifying activity areas in ephemeral sites. First, soil samples from Bedouin camp sites in Wadi Faynan will be analysed to determine their phytolith and geochemical content, and its relation to recorded spatial activity patterns and known abandonment processes. The combined method will then be applied to samples from the Neolithic sites of Wadi el-Jilat and Azraq 31.
Supervisors: Emma Jenkins, Tim Darvill and Andrew Garrard