What is AMAPP?
What today is a desert in Azraq, NW Jordan was once a thriving wetland, teeming with life, a true oasis. Azraq is the Arabic word for blue and people living in the town of North Azraq today remember fishing as children in the surrounding wetlands, known as the Druze Marsh. Due to excessive water pumping the marshes that existed for hundreds of thousands of years in Azraq have all but disappeared---all that remains is a small, artificially supported wetlands reserve south of the town. In 2007-2009, we conducted excavations at Druze Marsh and in 2013, we expanded our project to include a study of the Shishan paleomarsh in the Azraq Wetlands Reserve in south Azraq.
As a result of the marshes drying up, deeply stratified archaeological deposits (12,000 BP- >200,000 BP) reaching back into the Pleistocene were exposed. These deposits reveal not only tools, hearths, animal bones and butchering sites left by hominin species but also well preserved sediments demonstrating the changing hydrology and climate of the region. This stratigraphy allows our international team of students and scholars to study, over time and space, the changing dynamics of hominin settlement patterns, their use of resources and their responses to fluctuating climates and water availability. Specifically, we want to know if, when and in what ways the Druze and Shishan Marshes served as refugia for ancient hominins and what this can tell us about the long-term adaptability of our species. This project is funded by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant.