A diachronic analysis of orientation of sacred precincts across Jordan

Part of : Mediterranean archaeology & archaeometry : international journal ; Vol.16, No.4, 2016, pages 133-141

Located in the southern part of the Levant, the territory of present day Jordan functioned as a cultural crossroad since times immemorial. The state of preservation of the different remains and the quantity of the different stages makes Jordan a perfect area to perform a study on the evolution along time of the orientation customs. During our field campaign in December 2011, we collected data on a number of different cultic structures throughout the country, from Bronze Age temples, to megalithic monuments, Iron Age Nabataean monuments, Roman and Hellenistic cities and temples and Byzantine churches with a small number of Muslim mosques. This sample of over 300 structures of different periods allows a diachronic comparison of the orientation of cultic buildings for the last 5000 years in this area of the Levant. We find a consistency to orientate the cultic structures in accordance to similar areas of the horizon. This similarity is striking when comparing the megalithic monuments found along the whole country with the Nabataean monuments of nearly 2000 years later. This consistency appears despite the chronological gap, the cultural differences and also possibly the different ethnic components of these societies. The consistency seems to be broken after the Roman conquest, especially with the introduction of Christianity and definitely after the expansion of Islam. A comparison with other neighboring areas of the Near East is sketched in order to compare with contemporary monuments for each epoch.
Subject (LC):
Bronze Age Jordan, Iron Age Jordan, Nabataeans, Diachronic analysis, Temporality
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