Settlement, land use and water management systems in Roman Arabia : an integrated archaeological approach
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:42 by Paul Graham. Newson
The aim of this thesis is to gain a greater understanding of water management systems, land use and settlement patterns in Roman Arabia. Using an integrated approach, based on Geographical Information Systems (GIS), archaeological data, historical sources, landscape and surface survey this thesis explores the application of water management systems, particularly those technologies used to capture and control floodwater. This information is then used to address some of the major issues and models which have been postulated to account for, or contribute to, the settlement of marginal regions of the Levant during the Roman period. Many theories proposed in the recent past have attempted to explain the development of these peripheral zones, and these range from climate change, population increase, growth in trade and economy, through to imperialism and Romanisation. The first part of this thesis critically assesses the range of evidence on which many key arguments have been constructed, and clearly shows that much of it is incomplete and/or inadequate to explain such a complex phenomenon. Using the site of Wadi Faynan, Jordan, as a case study, it has been demonstrated that the study of water management systems has provided a great deal of information with which to understand the dynamics present in the occupation, development and abandonment of marginal sites. Furthermore, an analysis of the regional evidence has emphasised the regional diversity of Roman Arabia and the major factors affecting such diversity. In particular, the innovative use of a GIS has provided a clear analytical tool with which to model large amounts of complex data, and move towards exciting new interpretations and new applications of such technology.