Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 345–370 | Cite as

Constraining the time of construction of the irrigation system of Tell Hujayrat al-Ghuzlan near Aqaba, Jordan, using high-resolution optically stimulated luminescence (HR-OSL) dating

  • Christiane Rhodius
  • Annette Kadereit
  • Ulrike Siegel
  • Klaus Schmidt
  • Ricardo Eichmann
  • Lutfi A. Khalil
Original Paper


Tell Hujayrat al-Ghuzlan, situated at the northern periphery of modern Aqaba in southern Jordan, is one of the most important sites in Levantine archeology spanning the transitional period from late Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age times. Numerous stone structures spread out in the surrounding area of the prehistoric settlement were interpreted as the remains of a complex hydro-technical system constructed for water supply of the settlement, agriculture, and craft production. Although construction of the water management system in prehistoric times seems likely, this hypothesis could not be proofed, as archeological evidence is missing and direct dating of the structures is not possible with established dating techniques. But the chronological placement of the irrigation system is essential to evaluate the settlement site appropriately within a wider socioeconomic context. Therefore, here, a feasibility study was carried out to test whether it is possible to date the last exposure of the stone surfaces of the irrigation system to daylight, as expected to occur during construction or repair works. For age determination, the high-resolution optically stimulated luminescence (HR-OSL) dating technique was applied. Five samples were dated, three of them from different hydro-technical components. The HR-OSL ages represent likely man-made as well as non-intentional or natural events. In summary, the results indicate that the water management system was in use in Early Bronze Age times, thus providing a minimum age for the time of construction.


Stone surface dating High-resolution optically stimulated luminescence (HR-OSL) dating Irrigation system Tell site Archeology Chalcolithic Bronze Age 



The authors thank the following persons for their kind support of the study: Clemens Woda performed sampling in 2005 (then Forschungsstelle Archäometrie, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften) with the help of Matthias Grottker, Rüdiger Gnadt, Mathias Hamann, Benjamin Heemeier, Marian Stickel, and Ansgar Voorwold (Fachhochschule Lübeck). The SEM/EDS analyses were performed at the Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Heidelberg, in collaboration with Ilse Glass, who was always ready for assistance. Benjamin Heemeier provided information on water management in prehistoric times and photographs used in Table 2. Christiane Rhodius was financed by the German Research Foundation (part of DFG-grant Aqaba Ei 438/6-2). The manuscript profited from constructive comments by G. Huckleberry and two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christiane Rhodius
    • 1
  • Annette Kadereit
    • 1
  • Ulrike Siegel
    • 2
  • Klaus Schmidt
    • 2
  • Ricardo Eichmann
    • 2
  • Lutfi A. Khalil
    • 3
  1. 1.Heidelberger Lumineszenzlabor, Geographisches InstitutRuprecht-Karls-Universität HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI)BerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of JordanAmmanJordan

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