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Home / Science / Ancient rubbish hills from the Byzantine Empire reveal how disease and climate change destroyed ancient civilization

Ancient rubbish hills from the Byzantine Empire reveal how disease and climate change destroyed ancient civilization



An old, 1,500-year-old garbage heap gave archaeologists an insight into the demise of the Byzantine Empire.

To find out what might have contributed to the decline of the Byzantine Empire, the researchers examined rubbish heaps in the old outpost city of Elusa, in the Negev desert in Israel. The authors of the study, published in the journal PNAS, found that the disposal of waste was stopped about a century before the collapse of the empire.

Through earlier research, Islamic conquests were tied to the unraveling of the eastern part of The Roman Empire. The new research dates this to around 100 years earlier than previously thought and implies climate change and disease.

The organized garbage collection and its decline in the urban settlement of Elusa showed that a society collapsed in a crisis The Byzantine Empire as a whole was stable and tried to expand, the authors claimed.

Guy Bar-Oz, principal author of the study and professor of archeology at the University of Haifa in Israel, told Live Science: "Instead, we see a signal of what was really going on at that time and what is going on for a long time Archaeologists were almost invisible ̵

1; the empire was plagued by climatic disasters and diseases. "

About seven small village settlements centering on the administrative center of Elusa and farms further out, the authors wrote in public areas such as a gym, theater , public baths and churches.

And although architecture in a city conveys some insight into people's lives, it can be difficult to study because it was occupied and in the center. In comparison, landfills are more constant and untouched.

"It was clear to me that the real gold mine of data about daily life and what the urban past really looked like in the past," Bar-Oz told Live Sc.

The researchers excavated and analyzed several garbage mountains in the settlement. "These show the massive collection and unloading of house and rubble in the course of time on the outskirts," write the authors.

In the hills were objects such as ceramic pots, seeds and coal pieces. Live Science reported that olive pits and luxury foods imported from the Red Sea and the Nile were also discovered.

By assessing the artefacts, including performing carbon dating tests on seeds and charcoal, archaeologists concluded that the hills had been in existence for about 150 years. They also allowed them to calculate a date for the cessation of waste disposal: the middle of the 6th century.

This was around the time of the late ancient Little Ice Age: a cooling phase in the northern hemisphere following three volcanic eruptions and the outbreak of the Justinian plague in 541. After its end in 590, 100 million people were eliminated.

The inability of the settlement to maintain a garbage disposal service claimed that the researchers could not cope with rapid climate change and the pandemic.

Benet Salway, a senior lecturer in Ancient History at University College London who was not involved in the research, told Newsweek : "It is only for a place that may not be representative This was an area (the Negev) that flourished for a time and was probably always marginal in economic terms, so that the "decline" could simply be a reversal of the status quo ante AD 350. "

This article was used a comment from updated Benet Salway .


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