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Book: Mediterranean Resilience

Chapter: Negev Fragility and Mediterranean Prosperity in Late Antiquity

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41508


The prosperity of the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean and its hinterland during the Byzantine period is well attested in literary and material sources. Much of the evidence for this prosperity comes from commercial activities that would have relied, more or less heavily, on the maritime medium. The intense connectivity that emerged at one point between the Negev settlements and Mediterranean networks generated knowledge, influence, and wealth in both directions and played a significant part in nurturing a rapidly growing desert economy, which declined and collapsed no less rapidly some two centuries later. This article offers an initial evaluation of the involvement of the Negev routine within widely regional networks, ultimately seeking to demonstrate the extent to which its resilience was determined by, and dependent upon, Mediterranean dynamics and market forces.

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