Based on the accumulated data from numerous excavations in the hinterland of Gaza and Ashkelon and the results of the comprehensive bioarchaeological research on Late Antique settlement and economy of the Negev Highlands, this article addresses the decline of the flourishing wine industry of southern Palestine, dating it to the second half of the 6th century C.E. The decline in wine production in the region had a direct effect on the rapid abatement of Elusa, the main city of the Negev, and Shivta, a wealthy large village in the western Negev Highlands. Consequently, the extensive system of industrial farms that formed the hub of the flourishing wine industry declined at the same time. This article suggests connecting these events with changes in the patterns of demand, supply, and production of the “sweet gift of Bacchus,” taking into consideration regional aspects, environmental fluctuations, economic transformations, and the decline of consumption markets.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the School of Advanced Studies University of London as part of the Institute of Classical Studies Ancient History Seminar “Deserts in Antiquity,” organized by Institute of Classical Studies Director Greg Woolf and Leverhulme Visiting Professor Gil Gambash. This research was carried out with the support of the European Research Council under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant 648427), the Israel Science Foundation (Grants 340/14 and 915/20), the Leverhulme Trust, and the Haifa Cetner for Mediterranean History.
© 2023 American Society of Overseas Research.
- Late Antiquity
- Mediterranean commerce
- settlement decline
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies