December 2020 saw the crowning publication of the Landscapes of Survival project by Professor Peter Akkermans. Its main topic is human habitation in marginal environments like the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. ‘The people living here built their own society, and they would not have viewed it as marginal.’
Focus on the desert
The archaeological study of marginal areas in the Middle East is relatively young. ‘Archaeology in the Middle East has always had a strong focus on the fertile areas,’ Peter Akkermans explains. ‘The desert zones, encompassing enormous parts of the region, were omitted from analysis.’ Due to this practice there are large gaps in the knowledge of archaeological sites, and the resulting picture is a biased one. ‘We decided to study the desert areas specifically.’ The recently published book Landscapes of Survial is a major step in this field.