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NWO Free Competition Grant for Al-Jallad and Akkermans

Dr. Ahmad Al-Jallad and Prof.dr. Peter Akkermans have been awarded with the NWO Free Competition Grant for their research project 'Landscapes of Survival: Pastoralist Societies, Rock Art and Literacy in Jordan's Black Desert, c. 1000 BC to 500 AD'. Together, they study settlements, burials and inscriptions.

Surviving in Jordan's Black Desert

High-resolution satellite imagery and the new fieldwork in the Jebel Qurma region near the Saudi border revealed hundreds of previously unknown habitation sites and burial mounds and thousands of rock carvings and inscriptions in Safaitic, all dating between 1000 BC and 500 AD. These were the works of pastoralist groups with a mobile lifeway centred on hunting-and-gathering, sheep-goat herding and camel nomadism.

The multidisciplinary research programme under the direction of Prof. Akkermans and Dr. Al-Jallad aims to bring rich, new datasets (settlements, burials, rock-art, and inscriptions) in a single interpretive framework, which has never been done before in this region. It focuses on the social, political, economic and ideological strategies that allowed people to successfully exploit this inherently marginal landscape between 1000 BC and 500 AD.

This research into the social structures and fabrics in the Black Desert, and their embedding in the natural and cultural landscapes, will be developed from new insights from archaeology, iconography, epigraphy and the natural sciences (climate proxies, ecological data, remote sensing, isotope analyses). This integrated research effort will put the current, fragmentary knowledge of the cultural significance of this vast desert and its ancient people in a completely new light.

NWO Free Competition Grant

The NWO Free Competition Grant encourages free research that does not fall within the thematich programs. This means that the researchers themselves can decide what their research is about, as long as it fits within the Humanities.

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