Friday, March 18, 2011

Losing the "Lost Town"?


A plan to build a vacation village on part of an archaeological site in the Negev has locals up in arms.

By Ran Shapira (Haaretz)

Yehuda D. Nevo, an archaeologist from Midreshet Sde Boker who excavated the site in the 1980s, found dozens of structures made of local stone in the streambed. His findings indicate the settlement dates back to the late Byzantine period (the 6th century, C.E. ), and was populated by Arab nomads. In contrast to the surrounding society, which became Christian between the 4th and 6th centuries C.E., he believed the inhabitants here remained pagans, before converting in the 7th century to Islam.

Nevo, who died in 1994, attributed ritual significance to the site, but the Israel Antiquities Authority rejects his interpretation. "This was a Muslim farming settlement from the 7th and 8th centuries C.E.," says Yoram Haimi, the organization's archaeologist for the southern district.
But the developers promise to preserve the ancient architecture.