Agropastoral Resource Management in the Negev Heartland toward the Close of Late Antiquity


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2021: General Sessions" session, at the 86th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

We report new geoarchaeological evidence for a community-scale response to changing agropastoral economics in the Negev Desert during Late Antiquity (c. fourth–tenth century CE). Sustainable resource management is of central importance among agrarian societies in marginal drylands. In the Negev, the importance of hinterland trash deposits as archives of resource use/disposal strategies has been overlooked until recently. Without these data, assessments of localized variability in responses to societal, economic, and environmental reconfiguration are incomplete. We studied trends in the disposal of cultivar wastes, herbivore dung, fuels, and construction debris at the Byzantine-Umayyad communities of Shivta, Elusa, and Nessana using a suite of micro-geoarchaeological techniques. Our investigations detected a turning point in the management of herbivore livestock dung, a vital resource in the Negev. The scarcity of raw herbivore dung in the studied deposits suggested the use of this resource as sustainable fuel and agricultural fertilizer. In contrast, stratigraphic layering indicative of in situ fire paired with an abundance of dung ash indicated the dumping and incineration of raw dung outside the village of Nessana. We discuss how this reflects the decline of market-oriented agriculture and the ruralization of the Negev urban heartland toward the close of Late Antiquity.

Cite this Record

Agropastoral Resource Management in the Negev Heartland toward the Close of Late Antiquity. Don Butler, Zachary Dunseth, Yotam Tepper, Guy Bar-Oz, Ruth Shahack-Gross. Presented at The 86th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. 2021 ( tDAR id: 467456)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -10.151; min lat: 29.459 ; max long: 42.847; max lat: 47.99 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 32331