In Dabouki Land: Interdisciplinary notes on the cultural history of a landrace grape cultivar in Israel

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Cultivated for millennia, the grapevine held a special status as one of the most important fruits in the historical Levant and the Mediterranean world. However, since past farmers typically did not leave written accounts of their activities, viticulture history is often shrouded in ambiguity, especially concerning the classification of grapevine landrace varieties. Hence, the study of archaic viticulture relies heavily on methodological fusion to unravel its more readily discernible biological and oral traditions. We therefore merged archaeological fieldwork, historical archival analysis, field geography and ethnographic interviews to collect multifarious data on the Dabouki grapevine. Our analytical synthesis enabled us to depict how, over the course of history, diverse communities variously grew this cultivar in dryland vineyards. The cultural history of the Dabouki stretches from at least the Ottoman era, when it was widely planted throughout the region under various names, to its current revival by enterprising Israeli and Palestinian winemakers. The majority of our research was conducted within a unique environmental corridor in the western Negev of Israel where dense concentrations of relic Dabouki grapevine survive. Our paper surveys the cultural history of the Dabouki grape as a flagship cultivar in the intergenerational horticultural regimes of arid land farmers in the western Negev of the southern Levant. Remarkably, archaic Negev viticulturalists used the same cultivars across successive historical periods and varying socioeconomic contexts. As such, the paper illustrates that arid regions with longstanding winegrowing traditions are ideal for locating endemic grapevines that apparently can withstand challenging growing conditions. Focusing on the enduring legacy of the Dabouki, we suggest how historical knowledge of ancient dryland farming systems and landrace cultivars can bolster the sustainability of contemporary viticulture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105220
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - Oct 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024


  • Dabouki grapes
  • Dryland horticulture
  • Historical viticulture
  • Intergenerational sustainability
  • Landrace cultivars
  • Mediterranean coastal plains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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