Ancient trash mounds unravel urban collapse a century before the end of Byzantine hegemony in the southern Levant

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PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/
[Accessed 30 Mar 2019]

Ancient trash mounds unravel urban collapse a century before the end of Byzantine hegemony in the southern Levant
Guy Bar-Oz, Lior Weissbrod, Tali Erickson-Gini, Yotam Tepper, Dan Malkinson, Mordechay Benzaquen, Dafna Langgut, Zachary C. Dunseth, Don H. Butler, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Joel Roskin, Daniel Fuks, Ehud Weiss, Nimrod Marom, Inbar Ktalav, Rachel Blevis, Irit Zohar, Yoav Farhi, Anya Filatova, Yael Gorin-Rosen, Xin Yan, and Elisabetta Boaretto
PNAS published ahead of print March 25, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1900233116
Significance
Historians have long debated the role of climate in the rise and fall of empires of the 1st millennium CE. Drastic territorial contraction of the Byzantine Empire, societal decline, and beginning of the European Middle Ages have generally been linked to the Islamic conquests of the seventh century. This multidisciplinary archaeological investigation of trash mounds in the Negev Desert establishes the end date of organized trash management in the Byzantine-period city of Elusa and demonstrates urban collapse a century before the Islamic transition. Our findings, taken together with other evidence for Byzantine urban dysfunction, the Justinianic Plague, and recent research on the Late Antique Little Ice Age, flesh out the impact of the sixth century on broad historical trajectories.