Water, water everywhere - even at (Green) Petra


Susan Alcock 苏珊·阿尔科克
University of Michigan 美国密歇根大学


This talk explores perceptions and misperceptions of the ancient city of Petra in southern Jordan, best known as capital of the Nabataean kingdom in the early centuries BCE/CE. Despite the semi-arid nature of its environment, Petra served as a major center for long-distance trade and as the site of numerous tombs, temples and palaces, and the city continued to flourish in Roman and Byzantine times.

The work of the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project, a regional landscape survey conducted just to the north of the city center, sought to recover the diachronic history of the Petra hinterland. In particular, we explored the systems that allowed for water capture and water deployment — water capture and water deployment both for symbolic and for practical purposes — emphasizing in particular new archaeological means of studying such phenomena. We can also briefly consider how such studies may be pertinent to the tsunami of water shortages fast heading our way in many parts of the modern world.


Biographical Sketch

Susan E. Alcock (Ph.D. 1989, University of Cambridge) is Special Counsel for Institutional Outreach and Engagement, Office of the President, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Classical Archaeology and Classics at the University of Michigan. Previously, she was Director of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. She is a classical archaeologist, with interests in the material culture of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly in Hellenistic and Roman times. Much of her research to date has revolved around themes of landscape, imperialism, sacred space, and memory. Her most recent fieldwork was the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP), a regional survey north of the Petra city center. Alcock is a 2001 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Corresponding Member of the British Academy.