Lessons from history on sustainability, collapse and resilience are the
ultimate goal of the Byzantine Bio-Archaeology Research Program of the Negev
(BYBAN) (Tepper et al. 2015). Addressing the unprecedented
flourishing and collapse of the Byzantine Negev agricultural settlements
(fourth–seventh centuries AD), the BYBAN project offers a unique and
original approach. It focuses on ancient middens and domestic contexts,
which provide an exceptional focus on the materiality of daily life.
Archaeobotanical research is central to this project because the copious
plant remains retrieved are a reflection of the region's agricultural
economy and its environmental sustainability. This approach will enable us
to answer important research questions about the Byzantine–Islamic
transition in the Negev: what were the major cash and subsistence crops?
Which were grown locally, and which, if any, were imported? How, if at all,
did the agricultural economy change during the Byzantine–Islamic transition?
Were there any major changes in climatic conditions, and, if so, can they be
implicated as a cause for agricultural collapse?