Geoarchaeological Programme at Jerash

As part of UrbNet’s research imperatives in Jerash, geoarchaeology has been introduced to the excavation programme with the purpose of giving new insight into urban site formation processes and explore relationships between the city and its hinterland within an urban evolution perspective.

The Northwest Quarter of Jerash, Jordan, is densely covered with building structures laid out on a terrace system, stretching over the entire hill (app. 4 hectares). The area inside the wall is the highest point in the ancient city, and one specific research focus is the settlement history of the hill and the continuities and changes this area underwent over time.

Based on field observations in 2015 of the Jerash Northwest stratigraphies, there is potential for field- and laboratory-based geoarchaeological approaches to make significant and distinctive contributions to the understanding of site formation processes. In doing so, we will contribute to the overall understanding of urban development at Jerash.

The geoarchaeological prospection furthermore revealed that the perhaps most innovative and groundbraking approach would be to open up a new programme to explore the relationship between the city and the wadi (river); we see this as a long-term programme which will also benefit the wider UrbNet research programme.

As a starting point, we will explore the potential of the wadi sediments as a cultural and environmental record that can be explicitly related to the archaeology of the city.

The geoarchaeological research programme in Jerash will be conducted in close collaboration with Professor Ian Simpson, Head of School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Scotland.

In connection with the 2015 excavation in Jerash, two members from the Department of Conservation and Natural Science (Moesgaard Museum) spent a week at the site in order to assess the possibility of using various sampling techniques. The recovery of charred plant material seems to be possible, and they encountered the first sign of charred seeds of flax and olive stones. Furthermore, the department has evaluated all charred organic material intended for 14C dating from the site.

Investigators: Associate professor Søren Munch Kristiansen (Aarhus University), Professor Achim Lichtenberger (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) and Professor Rubina Raja (Aarhus University).