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Water 2017, 9(12), 991; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120991

Ancient to Recent-Past Runoff Harvesting Agriculture in Recharge Playas of the Hyper-Arid Southern Israel

1
Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, Yotvata 88820, Israel
2
Department of Geography, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 September 2017 / Revised: 7 December 2017 / Accepted: 13 December 2017 / Published: 18 December 2017
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Abstract

Recharge playas are prevalent throughout the hyper-arid southern Negev and Arava Valley of Israel. While some of these playas are terminal, others were found to be not absolutely terminal, allowing, under extreme floods, the outlet of water from their beds to a draining, ephemeral channel. Indicators for ancient to recent-past agricultural practicing were recorded for two playas. In one of them, this included the archaeological remains of seven Byzantine-Age stone terraces across the playa bed, indicating ancient runoff harvesting agriculture. In another playa, the agricultural indicator included observations by key informants who reported the cropping of barley and wheat by Bedouin populations until the mid-1990s. This was supported by rare bibliographic sources, reporting the cropping of cereals at this site by Bedouins during the 1930s and 1940s. Agro-hydrological assessments of seven playas and their catchments were conducted, revealing a marginal agronomic potential under the current climatic conditions and only for a small number of them. The results highlight the profound environmental know-how of local populations that inhabited this harsh region. Furthermore, the results coincide with previous studies, which have reported drier climatic conditions at present compared to those in ancient times, and even compared to those during the mid-1990s. View Full-Text
Keywords: clay pan; crop evapotranspiration; effective rain; flat pan; inundation; reference evapotranspiration; runoff coefficient; runoff farming; soil water deficit; source-sink ratio clay pan; crop evapotranspiration; effective rain; flat pan; inundation; reference evapotranspiration; runoff coefficient; runoff farming; soil water deficit; source-sink ratio
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Stavi, I.; Shem-Tov, R.; Ragolsky, G.; Lekach, J. Ancient to Recent-Past Runoff Harvesting Agriculture in Recharge Playas of the Hyper-Arid Southern Israel. Water 2017, 9, 991.

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