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Early Islamic Settlement in the Southern Negev
Abstract and Figures
During the early Islamic period, the port of Ayla, at the northeastern end of the Gulf of ʿAqaba, served as an important commercial center. This article surveys the archaeological evidence for early Islamic occupation in the southern Negev and the Arabah, a region that D. Whitcomb has referred to as Ayla's "hinterland." This evidence indicates that new settlements were established and flourished throughout the region during the 8th to 10th or 11th centuries. Their economic base included large-scale agriculture using sophisticated irrigation systems and the introduction of new crops, copper and gold mining and production, stone quarrying, and the development of a road network used by merchants and pilgrims.
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