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Management of water resources over time in semiarid regions: The case of Gerasa/Jerash in Jordan

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Abstract This article tackles ways in which archeological research can give perspectives on the development of water management and the strategies behind such management systems in ancient societies of historical periods. It focuses on the city Gerasa/Jerash in northern Jordan, which was one of the middle‐sized Decapolis cities that flourished from the Roman period (first century CE) until the end of the Umayyad period, when a devastating earthquake hit the city in 749 CE bringing urban life to an almost complete halt. Only in the middle Islamic period (13th century CE) the site was resettled. The article focuses on how scattered archeological evidence–which is usually not published by archeological projects due to its feeble nature—can bring new knowledge to light about the ways in which water was managed in urban contexts, in particular in semiarid regions, such as the region in which Gerasa was located. Pushing borders for how we can frame and interpret archeological evidence in wider diachronic perspectives is a necessity in archeology—not least in regions where archeology is under threat due to modern urban development and the general lack of resources to develop cultural heritage management plans. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Methods Human Water > Water Governance
Map of the Decapolis region. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Photogrammetric plan of trenches P and V (parts of early Islamic house) with the closed‐off square inlet to the bottle‐shaped cistern visible in the upper part of the plan. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Plan drawing of trench C with the closed‐off, bottle‐shaped cistern. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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In‐situ water pipe in trench E in the Northwest Quarter, which shows that the area was supplied with running water. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Plan of the cistern on the south slope in the Northwest Quarter © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Intentional cooking pot deposits set down into trench A, which was originally part of a monumental cistern located on the very top of the hill. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Trench S which exposed part of the monumental cistern on the top of the hill. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Parts of the monumental East Baths on the eastern side of the river. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Parts of the smaller West Baths off the main street of Gerasa. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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The partly restored Nymphaeum on the main street in Gerasa. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Altar Block close to a spring in Suf. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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The limestone mountainside from which the spring in Suf originates, image from 2015. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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The Northwest Quarter in Jerash with indications of excavated trenches A–X. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Profile of the city and the steep wadi. (Copyright expired. Therefore, printed after Schumacher, , Taf. 7)
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Map of Gerasa/Jerash. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project
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Map of the hinterland of Gerasa. © Danish‐German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project. Map data: Google, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO Landsat/Copernicus
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