Institute of Archaeology


Prehistoric hunting strategies in Jordan

This 3-year Leverhulme Trust funded research project (2013-16) proposed a novel combination of archaeological-science (isotopes and dental microwear) with behavioural ecological approaches, to directly identify ancient wildlife mobility and seasonality. In addition, spatial and computational models have been used to investigate hunter/prey interaction.

The research focus is the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic steppe-deserts of Jordan, where results will inform key debates about hunting strategies, hunter mobility and social
organisation, in key periods leading to Neolithic domestic livestock uptake.

This research project had three interlinked overarching aims:

  • To reconstruct hunting strategies in key periods of Near Eastern prehistory, focusing on the distinctive occupations steppe-deserts in the Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic (23,000-8,000 bp cal.), times of major cultural and environmental change.
  • To understand how the major wildlife resource - gazelle herds - underpinned steppic occupation. To achieve this, reconstruct prehistoric wildlife (gazelle) herd behaviour and mobility through a combination of novel techniques and approaches including animal isotope and dental microwear analyses, GIS-based ecological niche modelling, and behavioural ecological theory. Combined, these are pioneering methods for predicting 'live' herd behaviour in prehistory.
  • To contrast gazelle ethological parameters between the Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic and to explore whether hunter-prey dynamics impacted on changes in hunting strategies. Attendant changes in the social organization of hunting (access rights, exchange and sharing of kills, regional interactions of steppe hunters) and questions of hunting pressure on gazelle populations will also be explored.


  • Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant RPG-2013-223