As from 2011 Mark started a joint venture project with dr. Fawzi Abudanah of the Al Hussein Bin Talal University (Petra/Wadi Musa, Jordan) concerning the site of Udhruh. This town – 12 km east of the rose-red city of Petra – housed an important Nabataean settlement, is best known for the presence of a Roman legionary fortress and became a major regional centre in Byzantine and Islamic times. The interdisciplinary Udhruh Archaeological Project started with a field-survey program, small-scale excavations and diverse GIS-related and subsurface-detection techniques of a 48km² research area in the region around this town. A massive transformation could be observed in the organisation of water resources, agricultural systems and settlement patterns as well as communication networks which allowed for an active exploitation of the Udhruh region and turning parts of the steppe into green oases. We can conclude that the research area around the town of Udhruh is one of the most complete and best preserved field ‘laboratories’ to study the long-term development of innovative water management and agricultural systems in Southern Jordan throughout the Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic periods (2nd century BCE – 10th century CE). For the coming years this research program will focus on the diachronic reconstruction of the antique agro-hydrological techniques which were employed to cultivate this (semi-)arid landscape and the societal conditions that contextualised them. An international and interdisciplinary research team will examine, in close cooperation with the local communities, what the key to this water management and agricultural success was in ancient times. Next to that do we aim that this gained knowledge can be used for future regional agricultural applications.
Mark graduated at Wageningen University (tropical forestry and agriculture) and worked for many years in Africa and South America. After returning to The Netherlands he started working as a field archaeologist and studied Provincial Roman Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his PhD on the topography, settlement continuity and monumentality of Roman Nijmegen at the same university. He excavated and worked on the Roman harbour of Voorburg-Arentsburg (Forum Hadriani). Since 2011 he is Assistant Professor in Provincial Roman Archaeology at Leiden University and director of the Udhruh Archaeological Project (Jordan).
My teaching relates to general classes (theory and history of archaeology), practical skills (fieldwork and material culture practicals) and thematic-regional courses (Provincial Roman Archaeology of Northwest Europe and the Middle East). I teach classes from the BA1 up to the RMA and supervise Bachelor and Master theses. I have teaching experience at the University of Leiden, University of Amsterdam, Free University (Amsterdam) and Campus The Hague and enjoy training students on field skills in Jordan.