Archaeologist Yotam Tepper:
“We are trying to understand why the settlements in the Negev collapsed at the end of the Byzantine period. We are considering several hypotheses, from a phenomenon of climate change to a plague, to the effects of the Arab conquest around 630-634 CE. However, it is hard to come to a definite conclusion, especially because different communities were abandoned in different times,” he explained.Background on Shivta and the archaeology of the late-antique Negev is here and links.
Also, while we're on the subject of the ancient Negev, this discovery is outside PaleoJudaica's usual chronological horizon. But it's unusual and worth a mention here: 3,500-year-old plate depicting power struggle in ancient Negev discovered. Imri Elia, a resident of Kibbutz Niri, found the small engraved clay plate featuring two human figures near Tel Jemmeh (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.