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Crimson table grapes growing in the arid Negev - the plastic groundcover helps to counter



We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Haifa, Israel with partnerships across Israel and beyond who are undertaking a groundbreaking study aimed at revitalizing ancient viticulture within a current-day market context. Initiated in 2022 and funded by the European Research Council (ERC), our Proof of Concept (POC) project, "From Near Extinction to Market Distinction: Developing a methodology for the sustainable revival of heritage grapevine cultivars" is helping to bring to the wine industry the technology and methods needed for retrieving ancient DNA and reintroducing hardy, arid resistant archaic grape cultivars.

These components can then be applied in the restoration of local plant (wine) varieties that were once the hallmark of ancient wine economies. Our focus is on the historical wine economy located in the arid Negev desert in the 3rd-8th centuries CE. While conducting fieldwork among the ruins of historical agriculture sites, we found feral cultivars -- wild ancient grape varieties. Working together with local and national government authorities and other related NGO's, we are uncovering the genetic past of these legacy cultivars and applying our understandings to restore them to their genuine terroir and climate conditions.

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Is a professor of archaeology at the University of Haifa. His research concentrates on the cultural and biological heritage of populations in marginal environments in the ancient Levant and is enabled by applying novel multidisciplinary methods for reconstructing in high resolution the culture and environmental landscape of past societies. 

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Is the Bioarchaeology curator and Head of the Animal and Plant Ancient DNA Laboratory at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel-Aviv University. Being a specialist in paleogenetics, her current research focuses on the taxonomy and evolutionary genetic relationships among populations of extinct and extant Israeli species.

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Is a historian at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Haifa whose research focuses on Ottoman Palestine during the late Ottoman Period, including petitions, maps, the rural population, the early Jewish-Arab conflict, Gaza and its environment, and the Young Turk Revolution of 1908.

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Is a culture anthropologist with an expertise in peripheral communities, heritage tourism and the geographies of Negev viticulture. A research affiliate in the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, Israel, Schmidt is currently compiling an ampelography of native grapes from the Holy Land.

For further information please contact us
Our Proof of Concept Project is entitled: "From Near Distinction to Market Distinction" and is generously supported by the European Research Council (ERC)
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