Eastern Badia Project, Black Desert, Jordan

Led by Yorke Rowan, the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project investigates late prehistoric land and water in the Black Desert of eastern Jordan. The inhospitable Black Desert, named for the rugged, extensive series of lava flows weathered to create extensive boulder fields extending from Syria to northern Saudi Arabia, has been visited intermittently by pastoralists for millennia. Two areas, Wadi al-Qattafi and Wisad Pools are the primary study sites. Wadi al-Qattafi, 60 kilometers east of Azraq, includes about 30 basalt-capped mesas, with clusters of collapsed structures of basalt concentrating along the slopes. Wisad Pools, further to the east, includes hundreds of collapsed structures clustered around a series of pools formed by a short wadi. In addition to a variety of structures, over 400 petroglyphs are documented around the pools, primarily representations of horned animals and animal traps. At both sites, excavated structures dated to the Late Neolithic (c. 6500-5000 calBC) suggest hamlets occupied by hunter-pastoralists enjoyed a wetter, more beneficial climate. (Publications below)

Recent Publications:


Hill, A.C., Rowan, Y. M., Wasse, A. and G. O. Rollefson 2020. Inscribed Landscapes in the Black Desert: Petroglyphs and Kites at Wisad Pools, Jordan. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy: 1-18. doi.org/10.1111/aae.12158

Rowan, Y. M., Rollefson, G. O., Wasse, A., Hill, A. C., and M. M. Kersel 2017. The Late Neolithic Presence in the Black Desert. Near Eastern Archaeology 80.2: 102-113.

Hill, A. C. and Y. M. Rowan 2017. Droning on in the Badia: UAVs and Large Scale Site Documentation at Wadi al-Qattafi. Near Eastern Archaeology 80.2: 114-123.