DFG-Project Dekapolis-Region (Nordjordanien)

Interactions of land use, climate and soil development in the context of settlement history in the Decapolis-Region (Northern Jordan) (SCHM 2107/2-1)

Several authors postulated that severe degradation of soils in Jordan and the Levant was caused by agricultural mismanagement and deforestation. This idea served as explanation of historic developments like decay and abandonment of cities. However it is not yet clarified whether the present erosion is merely a function of land use or gradual warming since the last ice age. Historic field systems were partially preserved and are reflected by distinct soil development, indicating that the impact of land use could be more complex and less devastating than previously assumed. The project aims to acquire a better understanding of soil and landscape transfor­mation, its relation to land use systems and to climate change. It applies a comparative analysis of soils and colluvia, archaeological material, field systems and historic sources. The results will be evaluated with regard to possible future development and climate change.

The project focuses on the environmental history of northern Jordan. Jointly with Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg and Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan, soils are examined as archives for past land use changes and climate variations. It is intended to make results available in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan in a web-based GIS for ongoing planning processes. In the context of this project, various cooperations with archaeological missions and institutions in Jordan were established, including the FU Berlin (Dr. Hans-Georg Gebel), Grand Valley State University (Prof. Dr. Bethany Walker), Covenant Theological Seminary St. Louis (Prof. Dr. David Chapman), University of Toronto and University of Cambridge (Prof. Dr. Edward Banning and Dr. Lisa Maher), and the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in Amman (Dr. Jutta Häser).

Time Frame: 06/2006-05/2009.
Personnel: Dr. Bernhard Lucke, Prof. Dr. Michael Schmidt
Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Keywords: Land use, landscape archaeology, soil geography, pedogeochemistry; interdisciplinary research on archaeology and history

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