The Wadi Faynan Project

Wadi Faynan in southern Jordan contained the largest copper deposits in the Middle East. These deposits were extensively mined from the Chalcolithic until they were largely exhausted during the Roman period.

The Wadi Faynan Project was established as an archaeological and anthropological project intended to develop and promote our high standards of research. Under the patronage of H.R.H. Princess Sumaya, we are working with local agencies and communities to re-invest this knowledge to serve local needs.

Since 1994, as part of a ten-year research programme and building on the research carried out by the German Bochum Museum, CBRL teams have begun to document man's adaptation to a semi-arid environment. CBRL monographs reporting this work will be published in the near future.

The Wadi Faynan area lies partly within the Dana Nature Reserve, which is managed by the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). CBRL currently maintains a field station here, next to the new RSCN hotel. This field station has accommodation (and camping equipment for larger teams), work and storage space. Since the beginning of the project we have worked closely with the RSCN and our collaboration with them represents a union of palaeo-environmental research with modern ecological management. Funding has come from many sources, including the British Embassy in Amman, the Arab Potash Company, the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Board, and many British Universities.

The large rubble mound of Khirbat Faynan is the site of the region's principal settlement.

Around the site of Khirbat Faynan and extending into numerous side wadis, the remains of ancient mines, mining camps and smelting sites are evident.

Selected CBRL funded projects

Wadi Faynan Landscape Survey
Professor Graeme Barker & Professor David Mattingly, University of Leicester and Professor David Gilbertson, Nene Centre for Research, Northampton
A large multi-disciplinary team led by Prof. Barker has been documenting the land-use of the Wadi Faynan from prehistory to the recent past, with special regard to the copper mining. Focusing on the extensive field systems in the Wadi, they have carried out field surveys and paleo-environmental studies to explore the long-term history of inter-relationships between landscape and people within this semi-arid environment.

Wadi Faynan 4th/3rd Millennium Project
Dr Karen Wright, University College London
Dr Wright conducted excavations and surveys around the site of WF100 within Wadi Faynan to explore Early Bronze Age occupation in relation to copper mining in the area. This study seeks to address a number of issues concerning changes in ranking systems, shifts in modes of production and nomad/sedentary relationships.

Wadi Faynan -Wadi Ghuwayr Early Prehistory Project
Professors Bill Finlayson, Council for British Research in the Levant, and Steve Mithen, University of Reading
This project has studied the early prehistoric period. Material from the Lower Palaeolithic onwards has been identified, and a particularly important PPNA site, Wadi Faynan 16, has been examined by test trenching and geophysical survey.
more details on the Wadi Faynan project

Wadi Faynan Classical Survey
Dr Phil Freeman, University of Liverpool

Dr Freeman's project was designed to explore an area of Classical activity close to the Wadi Faynan South Cemetery. The survey seeks to understand the link between these two areas and provide further insight into Classical period occupation.

Wadi Faynan South Cemetery Project
Mr George Findlater, University of Edinburgh, Dr Mahmoud El-Najjar and Dr Abdel-Halin Al Shiyab, Yarmouk University

Founded as a rescue project in response to extensive looting of a Classical period cemetery in the Wadi Faynan, a team from the CBRL and Yarmouk University undertook excavation in certain areas to retrieve data. Now in its post-excavation phase, the project seeks to further our knowledge of Byzantine burial processes and the pathology of these populations.