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Early Islamic Settlement in the Southern Negev

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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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... In Rothenberg's survey of the Arabah and the Elat Mountains (1963, 1967b, 1971), 44 sites out of a total of 226 were identified as Byzantine, based on surface collection of pottery. Today, however, based on a reexamination of the pottery, excavations and 14 C dates, all of these 44 sites are dated to the Early Islamic period (Avner and Magness 1998;R. Avner 1998Rapuano 2013, except the Late Roman fortress of Yotvata. ...
... The Early Islamic (7th to 11th centuries CE) was a major mining period at Nahal >Amram, when the mines reached their maximum dimensions. This intensive mining fits well with what we know of the period in the southern Arabah Valley and the vast development in the region: the construction of a series of villages, large farms based on qanat (underground water tunnels), gold production, and more (Gilat et al. 1993;Avner and Magness 1998;Avner 2016). All these created a lively hinterland for the town of Ayla, 19 an important administrative and commercial center, pilgrim station and even a focal point of Islamic scholarship (Cobb 1995;Whitcomb 1988Whitcomb , 1994Whitcomb , 1998Damgaard 2011). ...
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... Both farms produced a wide variety of crops while herding was practiced all along the Arabah in all seasons. These farms supplied food for the population of Aila, the nearby villages, the copper industry, trade caravans and pilgrims (Avner and Magness 1998;Horwitz 1998;Avner 2016;Kishon et al. in press). ...
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79: The Intellectual Expressions of Prehistoric Man: Art and Religion
  • Religion Art
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Art and Religion, Valcamonica Symposium '79: The Intellectual Expressions of Prehistoric Man: Art and Religion, ed. E. Anati. Brescia: Edizioni del Centro. Parker, S. T. 1996