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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2018

Lines in the landscape

Water distribution and socio-religious landscape in ancient southern Syria

Anna-Katharina Rieger


Lines in the landscape are often drawn by water: Rivers, runlets, channels, and drainages appear as lines on the earth’s surface. In arid environments, where water is scarce, dry rivers (wadis) but also man-made channels, conducts and terraces mirror the human-nature interaction with water, which is crucial for the survival of men and the formation of cultural landscapes. Studying the distribution of water in the (semi-)arid region of Hauran in Southern Syria in antiquity, as well as the connection of its settlements and people and its religious dimension, the contribution reflects on the possibilities of interpretations of lines through the lens of processuality, materiality and landscape. The reconstruction not only of physical lines, but also of conceptual interrelations between places and their inhabitants allows for a more complex analysis of the materially defined net of water-conducting lines. This net is interpreted as the reflection of the social and religiously confirmed relations of people, places and their deities. The lines and the water feature as spatio-temporal elements, connecting space, time and people through their flow and extension, and bridging the hindrances to the interaction of a social and material world. Hence, the closed-grained study of the water management systems in ancient Hauran under the aspect of lines, hubs and religious interrelations offers an understanding of an arid landscape not restricted to questions of water technology and power relations but also of social processes and the place of religion in the society.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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