Pigeon-raising and sustainable agriculture at the fringe of the desert: a view from the Byzantine village of Sa‘adon, Negev, Israel

Yotam Tepper, Lior Weissbrod, Tal Fried, Nimrod Marom, Jennifer Ramsay, Mina Weinstein-Evron, Sophia Aharonovich, Nili Liphschitz, Yoav Farhi, Xin Yan, Elisabetta Boaretto, Guy Bar-Oz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Deposits rich in bioarchaeological materials were unearthed in two dovecotes found near Sa‘adon, a Byzantine-period village (5th–6th century CE) in the semi-arid part of the Negev. One structure contained a layer of pigeon manure and articulated pigeon skeletons, preserved occupation levels and evidence of sudden destruction (mid-6th century CE), whereas the other lacked distinct occupation debris indicting more orderly human abandonment. Our findings demonstrate the importance of raising pigeons for their high-quality manure in connection with agricultural development around the Negev Byzantine settlements. This product was essential for fertilizing vineyards and orchards; our findings provide direct evidence for the intensive nature of desert agriculture and a new approach to addressing questions of past human sustainability in an environmentally marginal area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-113
Number of pages23
JournalLevant
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Byzantine archaeology
  • dovecotes
  • marginal areas
  • pigeon manure
  • sustainable agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology

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