Ancient Beidha in Jordan
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Pre-Historic Beidha

A beautiful view of the Beidha and the surrounding area (Petra National Trust)

Selected Excerpt on Beidha

The Neolithic of the Levant
A. M. T. Moore - Oxford University

Neolithic 1: Pages 109 - 113

A Natufian and Aceramic Neolitihc site near Petra in southern Jordan. It was first occupied for a short period as a semi-permanent camp in the Early Natufian Period. The community of this time lived off ibex and goat; 75 per cent of the goats were immature animals, suggesting that selective hunting or perhaps herding was practised. Beidha was reoccupied circa 7000 BC by a PrePottery Neolithic A [PPNA] group who lived in a planned village of roughly circular semi-subterranean houses arranged in clusters. The main meat food came from domesticated goats while the villagers also cultivated emmer wheat and barley, both still in an early stage of domestication and collected a number of wild plants.

In the succeeding PPNB phase there was little change in the subsistence economy but the form of the buildings changed: in this stage there were complexes of large rectangular rooms each with small workshops attached. Floors and walls were plastered. There is some evidence that there may have been upper storeys. Burials without skulls were found in the settlement and there was also a separate ritual area away from the village where three apparently ritual buildings have been excavated. Finds from the site include materials that had come from great distances including obsidian from Anatolia and cowries and mother-of-pearl from the Red Sea ..... (AHSFC)

Satellite and aerial radar data, multi-spectral imagery, and photographs are being analyzed to illuminate relationships among cultural and natural features in the region of Beidha. Preliminary findings are that Beidha occupied a location nearly ideal to the development of agriculture and animal domestication with regard to water drainage patterns, environmental zones native to eventual plant and animal domesticates, shelter from climatic extremes, agricultural soils, defensible positions, and sources of high quality lithic material .....

Beidha was a thriving prehistoric village whose economy was based on cultivating semi-domesticated wheat and barley allied to hunting and gathering. Experiments in cultivating potentially domesticable plants began in well-watered areas but once planted away from their natural wild stands the plants needed constant care. The earliest settlement at Beidha began about 7000 BC. The inhabitants lived in temporary huts with low mud walls that probably supported a light superstructure of branches and reeds. This camp was occupied while the first permanent stone buildings were under construction.

During the time that Beidha was occupied true pottery had not been invented; that was to come 500 years later. But the destruction by burning of the buildings in antiquity provides evidence for the use of prepared clay and experimentation in modelling small receptacles and human and animal figurines. Beidha was deserted about 6500 BC never to be occupied again but the excavation offers a fascinating glimpse of life in a village community on the edge of the fertile lands .....

Council for British Research in the Levant
Original Article Missing as of 11/05/2002

Online Links Etcetera


1. JOURNAL: Pre-Pottery Neolithic Farming at Beidha
Hans Helbaek : Palestine Exploration Quarterly
Volume 98 : Pages 61-66 (1966)

2. JOURNAL: The Natufian Encampment at Beidha:
Late Pleistocene Adaptation in the Southern Levant

Jutland Archaeological Society Publications
Brian Byrd : Number 23 (1) : Pages 91-96

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