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An Epipalaeolithic camping site

Within the dune fields known as the Barqa, located to the south of Faynan, a huge scatter of stone tools and their manufacturing debris have been found. These were left by Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, who repeatedly returned to this location between 20,000 and 11,500 years ago. During that period, the area around Barqa appears to have been a wetland environment. Its fresh water would have supported a diverse range of plants and animals, making the area especially attractive for hunter-gatherers.

There are literally millions of stone flakes and blades left scattered within the sand dunes, many having been chipped into the distinctive microlith forms used by the Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, including slender points, trapezes and lunates.

The people at the Barqa would have made huts from bush-wood, and undertaken craft activities such as weaving baskets, drilling beads and working hide. The quantity of stone flakes suggests Barqa was a location where many small groups of hunter-gatherers congretated together each year, making use of the seasonal abundance of game and plants within the wetlands. Marriages and rites of passage would have taken place, with the exchange of goods and of information about distant places, before families and groups dispersed again across the landscapes of the southern Levant.

Location of Barqa

Flint blades and flakes at Barqa, estimated to be 15,000 years old