The arid and desolate, basalt-strewn uplands of northeastern Jordan have been perceived as the natural home of pastoralist communities, which lie on the very fringes of the early urban polities of the eastern Mediterranean. However, current fieldwork in the area has revealed the presence of many and diverse sites from the late prehistoric to the early historic periods that were finely tuned to their harsh environment. Some of these sites include rich assemblages, including rock art and inscriptions on stone. This paper investigates the hunter-herder communities that successfully exploited the “margins” in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It is argued that these desert populations were forced into obscurity by the Roman military intrusion in the region in the third century CE.

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