The Lower Paleolithic in Jordan

Maysoon al-Nahar, Geoffrey A. Clark


Although research on Jordan’s Stone Age has been overshadowed by work on its spectacular Metal Age and early historic archaeological sites, surveys and excavations beginning in the 1980s have compiled a credible record of the Jordanian Paleolithic, and we are now in a position to make an assessment of more than 30 years of sustained fieldwork. Our presentation summarizes work on Jordan’s prehistory during the Lower Paleolithic. Although work in the various subdivisions of the Stone Age has been uneven, real progress has been made in establishing the beginning of a reliable time-space grid, and in formulating and testing models for forager adaptations over the past 500,000 years. Work in the xeric, steppe-desert environments of Jordan is also put into the larger context of Lower Paleolithic research in the very different Mediterranean environments along the Levantine coast. Although both coast and interior were affected by the same succession of macroclimatic changes, the human response to them varied according to a mosaic of local geophysical, topographic and hydrological factors that affected the kinds and quantities of plants and animals distributed over the landscape, and the availability of surface water. To date, Jordan has few Paleolithic archaeologists. We close with some observations on the status of collaboration between foreign teams and Jordanian research institutions, and what might be done to train more Jordanian prehistorians.


Prehistory of Jordan, Lower Paleolithic, Paleoenvironment, bifaces.

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