What Animal Bones Reveal about the Negev under Byzantine Rule

From the 4th through the 7th century CE, several communities flourished in the southern desert of the Land of Israel, which were abandoned after the Islamic conquest in 635 CE. Archaeologists have recently uncovered and examined masses of animal bones in this area—not only of sheep and goats, but of crocodiles and other more exotic creatures—leading them to a clearer picture of its history. David Israel writes:

In the [pre-Byzantine] period, around the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, most of the bones found were of sheep, some of chickens, and almost none of wild animals. In the middle period, [during] the peak of Byzantine expansion, most of the bones are of goats with a few pig bones as well. At the close of the Byzantine period, the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th, most of the bones again belong to sheep, but with a significant increase in pig bones and bones of wild animals. . . .

[The researchers] explain that sheep require a large amount of water and grazing land, and in the desert raising sheep usually means wandering among large grazing areas—suggesting a nomadic society that raises sheep for food or for commerce. Goats need less water and grazing space, so you should raise goats in the desert when you have cultivated agriculture and can’t wander. This [implies] a more stable economy.

According to these findings, before the flourishing of the Byzantine empire, Negev society was essentially nomadic, similar to the traditional Bedouin society. At the time of the Byzantine expansion, the economy of the Negev settlements grew stronger and they turn to large-scale agricultural crops. The return to a sheep-based economy in the middle of the 6th century shows once again that during this period the agricultural communities in the Negev were beginning to decline.

This disintegration was bound to reach deterioration: the abundance of wild animal bones indicates that the sheep were no longer sufficient for the inhabitants and so they started hunting wild animals. . . . Among the bones found during this period were those of a species of a large African antelope once common in the country, mainly on the coastal plain and the northern Negev. To date, researchers have assumed that this animal became extinct in this region in the 7th century BCE.

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: Ancient Israel, Animals, Archaeology, Byzantine Empire, Negev

The Ugly Roots of Ireland’s Anti-Israel Policies

Prime Minister Varadkar’s meretricious messaging concerning the freeing of a kidnapped child is only one example of the Irish government’s perverse reaction to Hamas’s assault on Israel. Varadkar has accused the IDF of pursuing “something approaching revenge” in Gaza, and compared the Israeli war effort to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His parliament, meanwhile, came close to expelling the Israeli ambassador. Terry Glavin writes:

In a recent interview, . . . the retired Irish diplomat Niall Holohan put it this way: “We feel we have been victimized over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche—underneath it all we side with the underdog.” But there’s something else in the Irish psyche that’s impolite to mention in the comfy Dublin pubs and bistros. . . . Not a few of Ireland’s gallant and celebrated champions of the underdog, its heroes of Irish freedom, were vulgar anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators.

And in recent years, Irish Jews are commonly baited, harassed, and badgered every time there is some eruption in Israel involving Palestinian “resistance.”

The republican pamphleteer Arthur Griffith approved [of anti-Jewish agitation in Limerick in 1904], calling Jews “usurers and parasites.” Griffiths was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, in 1905, and he served as Sinn Féin’s president in 1911.

There was always a deep division in the Irish nationalist movement between Irish republicans who felt an affinity with the Jews owing to a shared history of dispossession and exile, and Catholic extremists who ranted and raved about Jews. Those Catholic shouters are still abroad, apparently unaware that for half a century, Catholic doctrine has established that anti-Semitism is a mortal sin.

Read more at National Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza War 2023, Ireland