Behind Sealed Doors: Unravelling Abandonment Dynamics at the Byzantine Site of Shivta in the Negev Desert

Yotam Tepper, Lior Weissbrod, Guy Bar-Oz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ‘Byzantine Bio-Archaeology Research Program of the Negev’ (BYBAN), launched in 2015, aims to examine the underlying causes for the emergence, long-term persistence and ultimate collapse of Byzantine settlement in the Negev (Figure 1). In order to model potential effects of climate change, natural disaster and pivotal historical events on the dynamics of settlement development and decline at a number of Byzantine-period sites, BYBAN combines comprehensive data retrieval techniques in the investigation of relict field systems, rubbish mounds and the living floors of residential structures. The Byzantines of the fourth to seventh centuries AD populated the arid, marginal environment of the Negev (<200mm annual rainfall) by developing an urban infrastructure and a productive agricultural hinterland on a scale unmatched in the region before the latter half of the twentieth century. The florescence of the Negev desert in the Byzantine period has puzzled archaeologists, historians and geographers since the early nineteenth century (Palmer 1871; Woolley & Lawrence 1914–1915; Figure 2).
Original languageAmerican English
JournalAntiquity
Volume89
Issue number348
StatePublished - Dec 2015

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