The physical setting of the Karak Plateau and surrounding region in west-central Jordan provides an excellent opportunity to analyze ancient settlement practices and patterns. The western upland region is typified by agriculturally productive soils, annual precipitation amounts near 500 mm, and physical isolation from regions to the north and south by virtue of the Wadis Mujib and Hasa. The rocky slopes of the Dead Sea escarpment and the arid conditions of the Syrian/Arabian desert define the region's western and eastern borders. This paper explores the movement of ancient site locations across this diverse landscape from the Chalcolithic through the Umayyad periods, against the backdrop of climate and climate change. Though ancient settlement decisions were made on the basis of numerous and often complex factors(environmental and socio-political), this investigation found a definite correlation between climatic conditions and site location decisions. With one exception (the Nabatean Period), site density was considerably lower during hot and dry periods and sites were located predominantly on the western uplands. In contrast, there was a dramatic increase both in site density and in distribution of sites across the entire region,including the eastern desert, during periods of increased precipitation and cooler temperatures. Though climate does not operate in isolation, its role in influencing ancient settlement decisions in the region of the Karak Plateau is obvious and suggests that the role of climate should be considered in all investigations of ancient Middle Eastern settlement patterns and site location decisions.

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