While the Dana region has plenty of sites worth exploring, few present travelers with the same robust historical immersion found at Wadi Feynan. Most scholars have conservatively dated the first settlement of the region to approximately 9,000 BCE, and trekkers can easily spot the remains of settlements from neolithic times through the Mamluk era.
The multicolored layers of sandstone also hold the stories of a tradition of copper mining and tool production that began more than five thousand years ago. Recent digs have unearthed more than 100,000 tons of copper slag from the region’s floor, and such discoveries have reinforced the idea that Feynan played an enormous role in supplying copper to the broader region. Feynan was known to biblical authors as Punon, a city recognized as a significant center of copper production.
The main archaeological site also offers new evidence related to the earliest settlement patterns of human beings. Cultural remnants found at Wadi Feynan appear to insinuate that humans developed patterns of settlement and consolidated religious practice prior to the advent of agriculture, a claim that runs counterintuitively to much previous anthropological speculation. Such a claim is groundbreaking for many anthropologists because it questions assumptions that humans needed to be established in settlements prior to the advent of shared religious and cultural practices.
The bulk of the Feynan ruins lie a short distance off the trail, and are worth a detour to explore.