Early History of the Petra Area - Introduction
by Henrik Jansson

Groups of early hominids and later Homo sapiens have been present in Petra since very far back in time. But, it is evident that certain prehistoric periods have got more attention depending on interests and trends among archaeologists. Early surveys in the region have to some extent directed later research. The lack of knowledge from early sites, even if there are finds from these periods scattered almost all over the landscape, is a combination of several factors: the nature of early human activities, the research situation, the long time that has past and natural forces affecting the material. Palaeolithic sites with in situ artefacts are in general very rare in Jordan and have only been preserved if the conditions have been just right.

As elsewhere, so also in Jordan, humans got their livelihood from hunting and gathering through most of the Palaeolithic period. Even if details in diet, mobility and other aspect of lifestyle possibly changed, the main subsistence still was based on hunting animals and gathering flora. By the end of the Pleistocene the strategy of surviving gradually started to change. This process started in a period called Epipalaeolithic. It is generally believed that after this, in the so-called Neolithic period, humans slowly started producing their food in form of agriculture and herding animals. Because of this the period about 20 000 - 7 500 years ago has been intensively research, but still the "origins of agriculture" is partly unclear and a debated issue. Petra has been the focal point especially for the early Neolithic studies, but many questions, related to this period and especially to other periods, still remain unanswered.

Further reading

 Early History of the Petra Area - The Lower Palaeolithic
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Middle Palaeolithic
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Upper Palaeolithic
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Epipalaeolithic
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Early Neolithic period
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Late Neolithic period
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Calcolithic period and the Bronze Age
 Early History of the Petra Area - The Iron Age

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