Shubayqa Archaeological Project

The Qa’ Shubayqa is situated in the semi-arid Harra region of northern Jordan, c. 130 km northeast of Amman. Following the discovery of a number of prehistoric sites around the edges of the Shubayqa mudflat in the 1980s and 1990s by Alison Betts, the Shubayqa Archaeological Project was launched in 2012 to further investigate the prehistoric occupation in the area. Initially focused on the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture (Natufian to PPNA) the project now also involves broader landscape survey, geomorphological and palaeoclimatic studies.

Since 2012 the project has carried out excavations at the Natufian site Shubayqa 1 (2012 – 2015) and the late Natufian and PPNA site Shubayqa 6 (2014 – 2018). Both sites feature well-preserved stone architecture, burials and rich assemblages of stone artefacts, fauna and botanical remains. Survey around the Qa’ Shubayqa has resulted in the discovery of more than a dozen previously unknown late Pleistocene and early Holocene sites, suggesting that the area was once intensively used in the past. Based on this fieldwork we explore a wide range of themes, such as the relationship between climatic and environmental and cultural change, changes in food and subsistence (see also our Past Foodways project), as well as the emergence of craft specialization, households and social inequality. In 2018 the team reported the earliest direct evidence for bread making, dated to c. 14,500 years ago, from Shubayqa 1.


Research in the Qa’ Shubayqa has been supported by grants from the Frie Forskningsråd Kultur og Kommunikation, H.P. Hjerl Mindefondet for Dansk Palæstinaforskning and the Danish Institute in Damascus.

14,500 year old building at the Natufian site Shubayqa 1
14,500 year old building at the Natufian site Shubayqa 1
Final Natufian/early PPNA building at Shubayqa 6
Final Natufian/early PPNA building at Shubayqa 6

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