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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 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

Funding

FundersFunder number
EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program
Israel Antiquities AuthorityG-30/11
Sapir Haad and Anat Regev Gisis
National Geographic Society3857/10
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme648427
European Research Council
Israel Science Foundation340–14

    Keywords

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

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