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Fallahin and Nomads in the Southern Levant from Byzantium to the Crusades

Fallahin and Nomads in the Southern Levant from Byzantium to the Crusades: Population Dynamics and Artistic Expression

CBRL-Affiliated Project

Between the Palestinian coast and the vast desert of southern Jordan stretches an enormous semi-arid buffer-zone. Bisected by the Rift, the Ghôr depression, this marginal arid zone between the sown and the desert, between the subtropical Mediterranean and the ''continental arid'' climates, was the setting for various modes of interaction between agriculturalists and nomads from the late Byzantine Empire (6th and early 7th centuries AD) to the Mamluk Sultanate (13th–15th centuries): sedentarism, nomadic infiltration, semi-sedentarization, sedentarization, reversal to nomadism, and temporary settling for the servicing of pilgrims on the road to Mecca, the Darb al-Hajj. Using new research tools - Geographical Information System (GIS) - in conjunction with traditional archaeo-historical interpretation of the past, an innovative geo-spatial approach applied to landscape archaeology was introduced in 2008 by archaeologist Claudine Dauphin and GIS expert Mohamed Ben Jeddou in an attempt to capture across ten centuries the diachronic, fluctuating population dynamics of southern Palestine and Jordan, to detect changes at play in the landscape of arable lands and desert, and trace the consequent adaptation of local populations of agriculturalists (fallahin) and nomads (bedu). Originally funded by the Mougins Museum of Classical Art (2010-2013), the Project ''Fallahin and Nomads in the Southern Levant from Byzantium to the Mamluks: Population Dynamics and Artistic Expression'' has enjoyed the support of the Augustus Foundation since 2014. It has been affiliated to the CBRL since 2011. Official permits from the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DAoJ) have enabled field studies and access to its archaeological archives.

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