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Gardens of Edom: 2,000 Years of Mining and Landscape Management in Faynan, Jordan

Date and Time: 
Friday, April 20, 2018. 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Building 110, Room 112
Workshop: 
Data Scarcity of the Earth and Human Past
Meeting Description: 

The Faynan region in southern Jordan today is largely an arid desert-steppic environment that hardly resembles a lush forested paradise. Yet, the region supported large-scale copper mining and production over the course of two millennia from the Iron Age (twelfth century BC) into the Middle Islamic Period (mid-thirteenth century AD). Faynan’s inhabitants needed large quantities of wood to fuel the copper industry, so how did they manage to do it? This lecture examines different strategies that Faynan’s inhabitants used over time to collect fuel and manage the landscape, using new data from archaeological excavation and survey, and especially wood charcoal data collected and analyzed as part of the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeological Project (ELRAP). These results reveal that effective use of Faynan’s local vegetation, hydrology, and geology could not only provide sufficient fuel for copper production, but even allowed cultivation of fruit trees like pomegranates, olives, and carobs, and even grapes. I also discuss how copper mining and production, and accompanying landscape use and management–which had varying levels of sustainability–impacted Faynan’s environment over the long term, and their lasting ecological legacy.

Brita Lorentzen is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Classics and Tree Ring Laboratory at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She earned her PhD from Cornell University in Geological Sciences with a concentration in Late Quaternary paleoecology and paleoclimate. Her main research interests include archaeological science, environmental history, long-term human alteration of forest ecosystems, ancient landscape management, and applying paleoenvironmental data in modern environmental conservation and restoration. She has conducted dendrochronological, archaeological, and paleoenvironmental research in several regions around the world, including the southern Levant, Cyprus, Turkey, Southeast Europe, Mexico, and the central and northeast United States.
 

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