|As a part of the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project the UCSD Levantine Archaeology Lab under the direction of Prof. Thomas Levy, has excavated three seasons at Khirbat en-Nahas (KEN). This study of Iron Age state formation in southern Jordan is deeply rooted in three conceptual frameworks: a) general anthropological theory concerning processes of secondary state formation and the evolution of social power, b) historical models concerning the Iron Age based on Anthropology, Biblical and extra-Biblical sources, and c) Middle Range theory that aims at linking raw archaeological data with more complex generalizations and conclusions about the past based on the hard archaeological evidence retrieved from the excavations. Fundamentally, the research was a response to the unsolved problem of who controlled metal production at this key Levantine site during the Iron Age, a period that follows the collapse of many of the Late Bronze Age civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean region. Recent field work at KEN and limited AMS radiocarbon dating have pushed back the dates for the Iron Age in Edom some 200 to 400 years earlier than previously thought (Levy et al 2004, 2005; Higham et al 2005). This has opened up new research questions that challenge models that explain the emergence of the Edomite state (i.e. core-civilization (Assyrian) dominance over Edom vs. local peer polity interaction with neighboring statelets such as Israel, Judah, Moab and others).
|Since 1997, the UC San Diego Levantine Archaeology Laboratory has worked closely with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan on a deep-time study of the role of mining and metallurgy over nine thousand years from the Neolithic period to Islamic times – in Jordan’s Faynan district, some 50 km south of the Dead Sea. Faynan, located near the beautiful Dana Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature Biosphere Reserve, is home to one of the world’s best preserved ancient copper mining and metallurgy districts. The UCSD project is called the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project, or ELRAP. ELRAP is special because of its focus on developing and using a high-tech, on-site digital archaeology system. Through the project students have gained extensive experience not only participating in archaeological survey and excavation, but also mastering an array of digital survey and recording tools. There is also a strong daily field laboratory component to the research that includes analysis of ceramics, zooarchaeology, archaeometallurgy, lithics, digital photography, GIS and more. The excavated material from KEN consists primarily of ceramics and material associated with the process of copper production, including slag, furnace fragments, tuyere pipes and copper left behind. Other special finds include scarabs, beads and other objects related to daily life at KEN. The digital collection consists of the spatial data collected during excavation, descriptions of important finds, illustrations, photographs, video, three-dimensional scans of objects and the site, and spectrographic data.