Biblical Archaeology Review 3:3, September 1977

Ancient Farming in the Judean Wilderness

The Buqe’ah (pronounced like a French “bouquet” with a short “a” added at the end) is an isolated basin about a mile and a half wide and 5 miles long at the confluence of several major wadies (dry river beds) in the midst of the Judean wilderness, about three miles west of the Dead Sea (see map).

Today, even after intermittent winter rains, nothing but dwarf shrubs and short annual grasses grow in the Buqe’ah. This provides grazing for flocks of sheep and goats, and occasionally camels and gazelles can be seen browsing the valley—but nothing else disturbs the desolation.

The same difficult climatic conditions prevailed in the Buqe’ah in ancient times; archaeologists have recovered fossil pollen, carbonized seeds and charcoal which establish that the same natural-growing plants grew under the same ecological circumstances then as now.

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