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Iron Age Agriculture − A Critical Rejoinder to “Settlement Oscillations in the Negev Highlands Revisited: the Impact of Microarchaeological Methods”

  • Hendrik J Bruins (a1) and Johannes van der Plicht (a2) (a3)

Shahack-Gross and Finkelstein (2015) further developed their theory, based on microarchaeology, that there was no agriculture in the Negev Highlands during the Iron Age. We critically evaluate their article in this rejoinder and propose that their conclusion is an example of overinterpretation from a small amount of indirect data. Based on phytoliths in two courtyards and a few rooms, i.e. structures not related to farming, they construed the absence of agriculture during the Iron Age in an area of 2000 km2. We present new radiocarbon, macroarchaeological, and microarchaeological data of Horvat Haluqim, showing that agriculture in the Negev Highlands based on runoff/floodwater capture and related terrace wall construction did not begin with the Roman–Byzantine period. Terrace agriculture in the Negev is older and includes also the Iron Age.

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