For the birds — an environmental archaeological analysis of Byzantine pigeon towers at Shivta (Negev Desert, Israel)

Jennifer Ramsay*, Yotam Tepper, Mina Weinstein-Evron, Sophia Aharonovich, Nili Liphschitz, Nimrod Marom, Guy Bar-Oz

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Pigeon rearing was an integral part of the agricultural regime that dominated the Negev region in Israel throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods. Dozens of structures have been documented that relate to the raising of pigeons and the exploitation of their dung as a fertilizer as is attested in the literary sources (Pliny, Columella and Varro). Excavation of a dovecote near Shivta produced large quantities of pigeon dung and sediments. The material recovered was processed for floral remains (both macro and micro) and archaeozoological remains. We present a holistic look at pigeon diet and local environmental conditions in the Byzantine Negev through the archaeobotanical remains. Demographic and morphometric analysis of size and shape of the pigeon bones refine our understanding of pigeon species that were bred in antiquity as well as inform on their life-histories. This integrated examination from an agro-archaeological perspective illustrates the complexity of desert agriculture.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)718-727
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
    Volume9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

    Keywords

    • Archaeobotany
    • Agro-archaeology
    • Byzantine
    • Desert agriculture
    • Palynology
    • Pigeon

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