The Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project started in 2012 (director: Peter Akkermans), with extensive yearly fieldwork in the basalt desert in North-Eastern Jordan. This multidisciplinary research programme aims to bring rich, new datasets from the Jebel Qurma region (settlements, burials, rock art, inscriptions, material culture) in a single interpretive framework, which has not been done before. It focuses on the social, political, economic and ideological strategies which allowed the local peoples to successfully exploit their inherently marginal landscapes from deep prehistory until the 20th century AD. The project, with its longue-durée perspective, investigates pastoralist lifeways and the treatment of the dead in the desert, the role of rock art in signing the landscape, and the implications of widespread literacy among the local desert peoples.
Our present focus of research is on the numerous burial cairns in the region. These graves are the burial places of people who roamed the desert many hundreds or thousands of years ago. They have never been systematically investigated, and little is known about their construction, date, and variability, let alone about their deceased occupants. This picture is now changing due to our ongoing programme of survey and excavations.