ArticlePDF Available
The Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project
seeks to examine settlement in Jordan’s norheastern
basalt deser from a longue durée perspective, through
survey and excavation in the rugged and diicult-to-access
Jebel Qurma region, located east of Azraq and close to the
Jordanian-Saudi border.
Pre-Islamic burial cairns dot the basaltic uplands of
norheastern Jordan, yet these graves have never been
investigated systematically. This situation is now changing.
The key aim of our recent research in the Jebel Qurma area
is to explore these many hundreds of burials of diferent
shape, size, and construction. In addition to the cairns
investigated in previous ieldwork seasons, a total of twelve
(pre-Islamic) tombs at seven diferent sites were chosen
for excavation in 2018 and 2019.
Three types of cairns have been distinguished up to now:
ring cairns, round tower tombs, and cist graves. On the basis
of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon
dates, these three categories of tomb appear to date mainly
between the second half of the 1st millennium BC and the 1st
century AD (Akkermans 2018; Akkermans et al. 2020).
43
Fig. 1. 3-D image
of an apsidal tower
tomb at the site of
QUR-1075, with its
explicitly straight
façade. A: outer wall;
B: burial chamber.
The tomb measures
about 3.8 x 3.5 m,
with a height of 1.2
m. (Photo by Peter
Akkermans, Leiden
University.)
Peter M. M. G. Akkermans
Leiden University
p.m.m.g.akkermans@arch.leidenuniv.nl
Jebel Qurma
Archaeological
Landscape Project
Archaeology in Jordan 2
2018–2019 seasons
Fig. 2. A circular tower tomb at the site of QUR-1075, with the leveled remains of
an apsidal tower tomb below. (Photo by Peter Akkermans, Leiden University.)
Recently, a fourh type of monument has been identiied: the apsidal tower tomb. These
cairns, about 4 m in diameter and about 1.2 m tall, are roughly hemispherical or squarish
in plan with one straight façade that is usually oriented towards the east (Fig. 1). They
have a central oval burial chamber, with a lat, stone-paved loor. As with the other types
of cairns, the apsidal tombs were regularly reused for interment. In one example the tomb
contained three individuals laid on top of each other in a strongly contracted position,
oriented east–west, with the head to the west.
While most of the other types of tombs tend to stand alone at prominent, high locales
throughout the Jebel Qurma range, the apsidal tombs occur in groups of two to seven
cairns at only two, neighboring, sites until now. In one instance, an apsidal tomb had been
substantially leveled in order to facilitate the construction of a round tower tomb on top of
the lower remains (Fig. 2).
Although their precise date is still under study, the apsidal tower tombs most likely
date to the early Iron Age, ca. 1100–700 BC. Grave goods, predominantly consisting of
jewelry, included a carnelian axe-shaped pendant with good parallels from Iron Age sites
44
AIJ 2
Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project
as far apar as Wadi Fidan in Jordan and Saruq al-Hadid in the Emirates. Another relevant
ind was a small steatite scarab in a Levantine Egyptianizing style of the irst half of the 1st
millennium BC.
References
Akkermans, Peter M. M. G. 2018. “Jabal Qurma.” Archaeology in Jordan [1] 2016–2017: 3–4.
Akkermans, P. M. M. G., M. L. Brüning, M. Arntz, S. A. Inskip, and K. A. N. Akkermans. 2020.
“Deser Tombs: Recent Research into the Bronze Age and Iron Age Cairn Burials of Jebel
Qurma, Norh-East Jordan.” Proceedings of the Seminar of Arabian Studies 50: 1–17.
45
publications.acorjordan.org/aij
AIJ 2
Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
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.