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Desert Tombs: Recent Research Into the Bronze Age and Iron Age Cairn Burials of Jebel Qurma, North-East Jordan

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Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 50, 1-17. Burial cairns dot the basaltic uplands of north-eastern Jordan, yet these graves have never been investigated systematically. This situation is now changing. Current excavations in the Jebel Qurma region, close to the borders of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have focused on the numerous cairns as well as their complex histories of use. This project identified different types of burial, including ring cairns, round and apsidal tower tombs, and cist graves. Radiocarbon dates, OSL dates, and grave inventories date the cairns to the Bronze Age and, in particular, the Iron Age. Through extensive survey and excavation in the area, this paper brings to light entirely new insights into the mortuary practices of Jordan’s north-eastern badia.

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... To a very large extent, typological quantification depends on excavation (cf. Akkermans et al. 2020). Additionally, it cannot be excluded that the practice of burial in cairns was selective in the period under consideration. ...
... Tell Rukais and other find spots on Wadi al-'Ajib, on the boundary of the dry steppe some 50 km west of Jawa, produced evidence of substantial, lengthy use as well as fortifications in the Middle Bronze Age, after 2000/1900 BC (Betts et al. 1996;Sala 2006b Occasionally, larger ring cairns do occur, measuring up to 10-12 m in diameter, but these appear to consist of two superimposed cairns (Akkermans et al. 2020). Although skeletal preservation is generally poor, it is clear that the suggested a commemorative role for these chains of cairns (Kennedy 2011, 3190;Rowan et al. 2015, 180), but their precise meaning remains elusive. ...
... also have parallels at EBA IV settlements like Khirbet al-Batrawi near Zarqa(Sala 2006a, 103 and Fig. 3.9) and Tell Umm Hamad (e.g.Kennedy 2015, 14 and Fig. 3, nos. 18-25).The four tombs with ceramics were part of a larger cemetery (QUR-951), consisting of some thirty cairns in total(Akkermans and Brüning 2017;Akkermans et al. 2020).The cairn field was high on the slope of a basalt-covered hillock, with a panoramic view over the meandering flood plain of Wadi Rajil below. The area with the cairns was used previously for groupings of stone-walled enclosures from the Late Neolithic period (c. ...
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