The Debate on Negev Viticulture and Gaza Wine in Late Antiquity

Daniel Fuks, Gideon Avni, Guy Bar-Oz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One hundred fifty years have passed since the first published reference in modern Western scholarship to ancient wine production in the Negev Highland desert, and much is now known about its hydrological, climatic, agricultural, economic, social and political context. Yet, in 2020 two studies reached opposite conclusions regarding the extent and intensity of Negev Highland viticulture, its relationship to Byzantine ‘Gaza wine’ and the associated regional wine trade. This raises wider questions on how to evaluate apparently conflicting archaeological evidence for ancient microregional production and trade, with relevance to longstanding debates on the nature of the ancient Mediterranean economy and the onset of the Middle Ages in Europe. We survey previous research on Negev Highland viticulture, including the two most recent papers, demonstrating problems of equifinality in the calculations- based approach to ancient production/consumption, and clarifying our own position regarding the relationship between archaeologically attested Negev viticulture and ‘Gaza wine’ of Late Antique historical texts. We then analyse additional sources of new evidence contributing to a more holistic synthesis of Negev Highland wine production and trade. At this sesquicentennial commemoration of Negev viticulture’s historiography, we close with unresolved issues and promising directions for future research. 1.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)143-170
Number of pages28
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Ancient Mediterranean economy
  • Ancient viticulture
  • Byzantine
  • Economic archaeology
  • Negev Highlands
  • Wine

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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