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Durham University

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Shuna Project

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


Excavations at Tell esh-Shuna in the north Jordan Valley were undertaken 1991-94 to investigate the nature of developments taking place in the small-scale complex societies of present day Palestine and Jordan during the 4th millennium BC, contemporary with the growth of cities in Mesopotamia. The evidence from Shuna demonstrates that at this time the area underwent very significant changes in its subsistence economy, production and distribution of material culture, long-range contacts, and the organization of space within settlements. The project was co-directed by Prof Graham Philip and Dr. Douglas Baird (University of Liverpool) and supported by: The Council for British Research in the Levant, The British Academy, The Society of Antiquaries, The Royal Museums of Scotland, The University of Liverpool, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, The British Museum, The Oriental Museum, and Durham University.

Current Research

Most specialist analyses are now complete, and we aim to prepare a report for the CBRL monograph series during 2014-15. However, the site produced numerous fragments of moulds and crucibles of late 4th millennium BC date (Rehren et al. 1997). This metalworking debris also included corroded copper prills, samples of which are undergoing lead isotope analysis in the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham (2013-14). In addition Karen Brehm is undertaking an MSc dissertation (2013) on the chemical composition of the distinctive large bowls of the so-called Grey Burnished and Crackled ware series, while recently completed carbon isotope analysis of botanical remains has provided valuable insights into the (surprisingly limited) role of irrigation in local cereal cultivation.



From the Department of Archaeology