Gerda Henkel Grant awarded to ROOTS members Marta Dal Corso and Stefan Dreibrodt

Tall Zirā'aAerial view of Tall Zirā'a in 2004 (Photo: D. Vieweger, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman)

Congratulations to Marta dal Corso and Stefan Dreibrodt, members of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS and of the Subcluster ‘ROOTS of Socio-Environmental Hazards’ (link) and ‘Dietary ROOTS’ (, for their new project grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation (link) on high-resolution palaeoecological studies at Tall Zirā'a, Jordan (ENVHIST I@Tall Zirā'a).

Tall Zirā'a is a key archaeological site in northwest Jordan, located where the Wādī al-'Arab descends to the great depression of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. As a consequence of uninterrupted settlement activity over the last 5000 years, from the Early Bronze Age until the Islamic Period, a 20 m-thick archaeological stratigraphy accumulated at Tall Zira'a. In the centre of the tell, a spring-fed travertine sequence is preserved. The analysis of this archive is the focus of this new project that combines the study of the archaeological record with high-resolution palaeoenvironmental data.

The project ENVHIST I@Tall Zirā'a has been developed in collaboration with Dieter Vieweger, director of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman (link). This institute is in charge of excavations at the site. A field campaign is planned for spring 2021. This will focus on drilling the travertine sequence and searching for palaeoenvironmental archives in the surrounding landscape. Overlapping sequences of the travertine deposition and additional samples from the tell layers and the surrounding landscape will be the objects of multi-proxy analyses in the labs of Kiel University. Here the samples will be dated and investigated with palaeobotanical methods and stable isotope analyses.

The presumed continuity of the travertine deposition and its proximity to the settlement makes it an excellent archive of Holocene Levant environmental history. Palaeobotanical analysis of plant remains (pollen/NPPs, phytoliths, macroremains) from the travertine sequence is expected to deliver a high-resolution record of settlement activity and Holocene vegetation history at Tall Zirā'a. Stable isotope analysis combined with facies studies of the travertine sequence is expected to result in a high-resolution palaeoclimate record concerning the precipitation for the region. All records, which can be directly connected to existing palaeoenvironmental data from the surroundings, will provide promising data to yield a better understanding of the environmental history since late prehistory in a landscape known as the Holy Land in the bible.

For further information, please contact Dr. Marta dal Corso or PD Stefan Dreibrodt by email.  
Additional details about the project can be found here

Tall Zirā'aPotential of prospected archives of human-environmental interrelation at Tall Zirāʿa

Tall Zirā'aAerial view of Tall Zirā'a (Photo: D. Vieweger, German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in the Holy Land in Jerusalem/Amman)


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions