Composition of modern dust and holocene aeolian sediments in archaeological structures of the southern levant

Bernhard Lucke, Amir Sandler, Kim André Vanselow, Hendrik J. Bruins, Nizar Abu-Jaber, Rupert Bäumler, Naomi Porat, Paula Kouki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Archaeological structures are often filled with sediments and may serve as effective dust traps. The physical parameters and chemical composition of archaeological soils in hilltop ruins, ancient runoff-collecting terraces, and cleanout spoils of cisterns were determined in the Petra region in southern Jordan and the Northern Negev in Israel. Different types of ruins are characterized by certain soil structures, but could not be distinguished with regard to substrate composition. This reflects a predominance of aeolian processes for primary sedimentation, while fluvial processes seem to only re-distribute aeolian material. In the Petra region, the physical and chemical properties of all archaeological soils show a significant local contribution from associated weathered rocks. Compared to modern settled dust, archaeological soils in Southern Jordan are enriched with various major and trace elements associated with clays and oxide coatings of fine silt particles. This seems connected with preferential fixation of silt and clay by surface crusts, and a role of moisture in sedimentation processes as calcareous silt was found to be deposited in greater amounts when associated with precipitation. In contrast, the contribution of rocks is negligible in the Negev due to greater rock hardness and abundant biological crusts that seal surfaces. Archaeological soils in the Negev are chemically similar to current settled dust, which consists of complex mixtures of local and remote sources, including significant portions of recycled material from paleosols. Archaeological soils are archives of Holocene dust sources and aeolian sedimentation processes, with accretion rates exceeding those of Pleistocene hilltop loess in the Negev. Comparison with Pleistocene paleosols suggests that dust sources did not change significantly, but disappearance of snow could have reduced dust accumulation during the Holocene.

Original languageEnglish
Article number762
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Aeolian sedimentation
  • Archaeological soils
  • Dust
  • EMMAgeo
  • Holocene
  • Loess
  • Pre-weathered deposits
  • Precipitation influence
  • Runoff-irrigated terraces
  • Snow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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