The significance of the geological strata on desert runoff agriculture: Indications for stable desert environment over the last 1600 years in southern Israel

Nimrod Wieler, Yoav Avni, Marcelo Rosensaft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Large distribution of historical agricultural installations in the desert zone of the southern Levant, mainly from the Byzantine - Early Muslim periods (1600–1000 y BP) indicates that the region was highly productive in the past. That could have been achieved either because of a more humid climate, or by sophisticated runoff harvesting techniques utilized by the ancient farmers under a desert climate. Among all, the most important factor enabling the existence of the desert agriculture was runoff harvesting. Our study assess a multi-disciplinary approach testing the relationship between diverse geological strata, their ability to cause runoff and the possible preferences made by the ancient farmers to utilize these rock properties. Utilizing GIS methods we generated high-resolution maps, highlighting the present runoff potential both on a single lithology slope level and on the drainage basin scale. By applying this methodology we show that high correlation (80%) exists when testing the spatial emplacement of runoff-farming installations constructed during the Byzantine - Early Muslim periods on the present best runoff yielding drainage basins under the present climatic conditions. This hints at the long stability of the environmental and probably climatic conditions in the southern Levant regions during the late Holocene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume135
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Ancient desert agriculture
  • Climate variability
  • GIS
  • Rain-bedrock-runoff relations
  • Southern Levant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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