Who Were the People in the Neolithic Black Desert? — An ACOR Video Lecture

The ACOR Video Lecture Series provides accessible discussions of new research into the past and present of Jordan and the broader Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean worlds. This video was adapted from the October 2017 public lecture delivered at ACOR by Dr. Gary Rollefson, ACOR-NEH Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Whitman College.  Dr. Rollefson’s recent research examines changes in the early human populations  living in the Black Desert between 7000—6000 BC.

About the lecture

Before 7,000 BC, the people of the Black Desert lived as hunters and gatherers, following herds of gazelle and moving from camp to camp on a frequent basis. By 6,600 BC, it is clear that the population of the area grew suddenly to perhaps ten to twenty times what it was a few hundred years earlier, and the people lived for the first time in sturdy, permanent houses made of stone, staying in them for months at a time. The lecture will look at what caused the change in the populations living in the Black Desert.

About the lecturer

Dr. Gary Rollefson has received numerous NEH and CAORC fellowships over his long academic career that began in Jordan with ACOR almost 40 years ago. He is currently an emeritus professor of Anthropology at Whitman College. He received his Ph.D. (1978) as well as his M.A. (1972) in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, Tucson and he received his B.A. (1965) in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkley. He has held many teaching and lecturing positions and boasts a long list of publications and fieldwork related to the archaeology of Jordan. Read more about Dr. Gary Rollefson.


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this video lecture do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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