Geoarchaeological Investigation at the Intermediate Bronze Age Negev Highlands Site of Mashabe Sade

Zachary C. Dunseth, Andrea Junge, Markus Fuchs, Israel Finkelstein, Ruth Shahack-Gross

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Massive settlement activity characterizes the arid Negev Highlands during the Intermediate Bronze Age (ca. 2500–1950 BCE). However, the underlying subsistence basis of this population is poorly understood. Recent microarchaeological work at Iron Age sites in the Negev Highlands has shown the potential for recovering direct evidence for subsistence practices through analysis of the microscopic plant remains in degraded animal dung. Following these methods, this paper reports new macro- and micro-archaeological results of two sites near Mashabe Sade: a central Intermediate Bronze Age site, and for comparison, an ephemeral site in the immediate vicinity. At the central site, dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age by pottery and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), evidence is absent for any sort of food production. In contrast, identification of ancient livestock dung at the ephemeral site suggests that it was sustained by animal husbandry— yet the OSL results suggest these degraded dung deposits date to the Iron Age. Taken together, the Intermediate Bronze Age results from Mashabe Sade bolster arguments suggesting that central sites were supported mainly by trade and other alternative subsistence practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-75
Number of pages33
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University.


  • Intermediate Bronze Age
  • Mashabe Sade
  • Microarchaeology
  • Negev Highlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology

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