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Soil Erosion, Agricultural Intensification, and Iron Age Settlement in the region of Tall al-'Umayri, Jordan

"Soil and water conservation is an important factor affecting the success of any agricultural endeavor. This is especially true for the highland regions of the Levant, where it has long been maintained that the introduction of intensive agriculture, including terraces, enabled human penetration into these areas during the Iron Age. Unfortunately there are few terrace systems which can be securely dated to the Iron Age, leaving the researcher with few artifactual pegs upon which to hang this assertion. This paper approaches the question not by looking for terraces, but by looking for areas susceptible to soil erosion, i.e. areas where terrace walls would be necessary to support agriculture. Concentrating on the region of Tall al-''Umayri, Jordan, a series of models were built using a geographic information system (GIS) and the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) developed by the USDA. These models estimate the erosion potential of the region under a variety of conditions, including forested, deforested, and plowed. Iron 1 and Iron 2 archaeological sites from the region were then placed in the models to discover the erosion potential at these sites. Results suggest that agricultural terracing was utilized in the region throughout the Iron Age."

Author(s):  Christopherson, Gary L & D. Philip Guertin
Format:  Presentation
Source:  Presented At: The Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research Philadelphia, Pennsylvania November, 1995