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Seeds from 1,500-year-old Negev trash pits show a world on the brink of collapse

From The Times of Israel (27/07/2020)

Seeds from 1,500-year-old Negev trash pits show a world on the brink of collapse

Pandemic, climate change, and international socioeconomic depression are all leading factors in the crash and burn of Negev viticulture — a millennium and a half ago. A new archaeological study of Byzantine-era trash dumps in the Negev Highlands offers an eerily relevant analysis of how the strong Byzantine empire of the mid-6th century began to crumble while international markets were tanked by a butterfly-effect list of causes. Contributing factors to the doomsday atmosphere included the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA), a bizarre widespread climate anomaly that began with a series of massive volcanic eruptions in the 530s and 540s CE, and the Justinian Plague of 541-549 CE. Using organic evidence collected at three Negev sites — Elusa, Shivta and Nessana — and 11 midden pits, an interdisciplinary team of Israeli archaeologists charted the rise and fall of commercial viticulture in the Negev Highlands, and how international disasters may have played a role in its demise and the domino effect of global markets.



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