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Roads to Mansur
Project (RMP)

The Archaeology of Southern Jordan

The Archaeology of Southern Jordan: Current State of Research

In ancient times, the area of Jordan south of the Dead Sea was called Edom. In the Iron Age (c. 1200-500 BCE), Edom was an independent polity with a king, known in historical sources from Egypt, Assyria and the Bible.

A distinctive characteristic of the Iron Age in Edom are sites located on mountain tops. The discussion concerning these sites has tended to emphasise their inaccessibility, remoteness, lack of water and arable land, with explanations suggesting temporary occupation in marginal areas by pastoralist and non-sedentary populations, and a retreat and search for security from the threat of hostile neighbours. But most of these mountain-top sites have only been surveyed briefly, with one-day visits. Their environmental setting and function remain uncertain. In particular, we lack data about how these mountain-top sites were connected to each other and to the rest of Edom.

Previous surveys have not systematically covered these more mountainous regions, largely because the rugged landscape makes it difficult and sometimes dangerous terrain to cover. Yet such areas comprise a significant proportion of the area of Edom.

The Roads to Mansur Project

To fill some of the gaps in the archaeological data and understanding, there is a particularly important question around the site of Qurayyat al-Mansur, a large mountain-top site in the rugged region of the Wadi Feid, c. 16 km north of Petra, overlooking the Wadi Arabah.

Briefly surveyed in 2004, Ulrich Hübner called it the second largest Iron Age settlement so far discovered in Edom, after the capital Busayra, and suggested it was a very significant Edomite site. The summit and terraces have dense concentrations of dry-stone, broad-room houses, and there is a town wall and a single gateway. Despite the site’s remote location, rugged topography, and relative inaccessibility, its size, and the presence of a town wall and gateway, imply a significant Iron Age site. If it was an important, fortified trading settlement, then it must have been connected by routes across the rocky landscape south to Petra, north to Busayra, and west to the trade routes to the Mediterranean.

The aim of the Roads to Mansur Project (RMP) is to survey, map and date the routes in the mountainous landscape connecting to Qurayyat al-Mansur by the use of drones to better understand its location, function and connections, and to develop the discussion on the Edomite mountain-top sites in a new direction.
Katharina Schmidt
Director GPIA
Benedikt Hensel
Theologische Fakultät
Rocío Da Riva
Facultat de Geografia i Història
Felix Wolter

Edom from above

Among its research tools, Edomarchaeology uses high-quality drone footage to explore ancient habitats.

Edom from above

Among its research tools, Edomarchaeology uses high-quality drone footage to explore ancient habitats.

Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation