Pastoral diversities: Multiple perspectives on the archaeology of desert pastoral societies – Notes from the Negev

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Taking a long-term perspective of desert pastoralism as an adaptation to changing social and environmental circumstances, a brief history of the phenomenon based primarily on archaeological research examines five different aspects of desert pastoralism using the Negev as a case study. These aspects are: 1. Changing species of exploitation, 2. Varying patterns of seasonal behaviors, 3. Dynamic trends in territoriality and demography, 4. The impacts of fluctuating climates, and 5. Variability in the relationships between desert pastoral societies and their sedentary cousins. Long term trends identified include cumulative species exploitation, linked to diversifying functions of animals in the pastoral societies, the increasing role of social factors in the determination of patterns of seasonal behavior, fluctuating patterns of demography tied to changing patterns of territoriality, with periods of fluorescence and nadir, but increasing site numbers and sizes with each period of fluorescence, and ever intensifying ties to the settled zone in those periods of fluorescence. Variability tied to climatic and environmental change is complex, tied to the fundamental flexibility of pastoral adaptations, changing economic inputs from the settled zone, and the fundamental mosaic of desert environments. Adaptations may be nuanced, and climatic fluctuations are not linked in one-to-one relationships with social prosperity or decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-19
Number of pages16
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2024


  • Holocene
  • Negev
  • Nomadism
  • Pastoralism
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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