One of the most prestigious wines of late antiquity was Gaza wine, which, like Ashkelon wine, became popular in the late fourth century and reached peak demand in the second half of the fifth–early seventh centuries CE. The appetite for this and other southern Levantine wines arose as a result of several influential processes, leading among them the growth of the new capital at Constantinople and its positive economic effect on the eastern Mediterranean (Ostrogorsky 2003: 59; van Dam 2010: 77). More specifically, the growing popularity of Christianity, and the rise of both the pilgrimage movement and the ascetic communities, served as efficient platforms for familiarizing the Mediterranean world with wines originating in the Holy Land. With the spread of the ritual of the Eucharist, wine from the Holy Land gained particular sanctity. While the western part of the Mediterranean may have been lost to the empire, the new kingdoms that now controlled the region adopted essential elements of Mediterranean routine and Roman culture, including Christianity, and the wine trade between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean continued to prosper regardless of political changes (Chrysos 1997: 18; Pohl 1997; Lebecq 1997; Halsall 2007: 19–22; Brown 1971: 144).
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This work was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union?s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant agreement 648427) and the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 340-14). S?ra Lantos?s research was also supported by the Leon H. Charney School, and the Leon Recanati Institute, University of Haifa. We thank Yotam Tepper, Tali Erickson-Gini, Lior Weissbrod, Meirav Meiri, Daniel Fuks, and Joshua Schmidt for stimulating discussions on the archaeological evidence for viticulture and viniculture in the Negev.
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