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Characterizing the rural landscape during the Iron Age and Roman period (ca. 1200 b.c.–a.d. 400): An intensive survey of Wadi al-Feidh, southern Jordan


Archaeological surveys in the southern Levant have traditionally focused on areas with favorable climates and flat terrain where large urban sites are found, corresponding with a research focus on social complexity and state formation. Fewer surveys have explored the rocky, difficult-to-reach areas where large-scale agriculture was rare. This article uses survey data from the 2009 survey of Wadi al-Feidh, southern Jordan, to demonstrate the importance of exploring these environmentally marginal areas. Employing an intensive survey methodology, we recorded a range of sites and features previously unrecognized in this region. These findings suggest that subsistence patterns shifted from small-scale, mixed agro-pastoralism in the Iron Age (1200-586 B.C.) to a more intensive, top-down strategy of agricultural production by the Roman period (ca. 100 B.C.-A.D. 400). The results provide new insight into regional socioeconomic change in the southern Levant from the perspective of peripheral communities.

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