Throughout the basaltic uplands of northeastern Jordan, there are countless large and small mounds of stone (cairns), which are the burial places of people who roamed the desert many hundreds or thousands of years ago. These numerous graves have never been systematically investigated, and little is known about their construction, date, and variability, let alone about their deceased occupants. ... [Show full abstract] This picture is now changing owing to an ongoing program of survey and excavation in the Jebel Qurma region, close to the border of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. These investigations point towards complex and entangled arrangements of cairn use and mortuary practices over time, when Early Bronze Age cemeteries are replaced by singular, impressive tower tombs and conical ring cairns in the Hellenistic to Byzantine period. The reuse of these tombs is a recurrent feature, emphasizing the focal and enduring role of these monuments to both the dead and the living.