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Settlement Patterns in the Southern Levant Deserts During the 6th–3rd Millennia BC: a Revision Based on 14C Dating

  • Uzi Avner (a1) and Israel Carmi (a2)

Abstract

Archaeological surveys conducted in the Negev and Sinai during the 20th century were commonly interpreted as representing short settlement periods interrupted by long gaps. The time factor was usually based on archaeological estimates rather than comprehensive physical dating. For example, the perceived age and time duration of “hole-mouth” pottery sherds and tabular flint scrapers became a source of circular reasoning to “date” sites and their “duration.” Thus, desert sites became to be perceived as temporary, seasonal, short-lived, while the cultures of desert populations were somehow undervalued. However, radiocarbon dating of desert sites from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age IV presents a very different scenario. The deserts of the Southern Levant exhibit a full sequence of settlement, a longer life span of individual sites, and a higher level of activity and creativity of the desert people. This paper describes the controversy and presents the 14C data that form the basis for the revised view.

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