Ancient Inscriptions Show Life Once Flourished in Jordan’s ‘Black Desert’

Thousands of inscriptions and petroglyphs dating back around 2,000 years have been discovered in the Jebel Qurma region of Jordan’s Black Desert. They tell of a time when the now-desolate landscape was teeming with life.

“Nowadays, the Jebel Qurma area, and the Black Desert in general, is a highly inhospitable area, very arid and difficult to cross,” said Peter Akkermans, a professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands who leads the Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project. Photos the team took of the modern-day landscape show little water, vegetation or wildlife.

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This cluster of about 100 petroglyphs was found by a burial in Jordan’s Black Desert. Credit: Peter Akkermans

The inscriptions are written in Safaitic, an alphabetic script used by people who lived in parts of Syria, Jordan and Arabia in ancient times. Research is ongoing, but the archaeologists say their finds indicate that around 2,000 years ago, Jebel Qurma had trees, wildlife and a sizable human population. [See Images of the Petroglyphs in the Black Desert]

 

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