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Decline of the flourishing wine industry of southern Palestine

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

From Bulletin of ASOR, 389 (09/03/2023)


When “the Sweet Gifts of Bacchus” Ended—New Archaeological Evidence for Settlement

Decline of Wine Production in Late Antique Southern Palestine

Changes and the Decline of Wine Production in Late Antique Southern Palestine"

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 wealthylarge 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.



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