OSL dating of pre-terraced and terraced landscape: Land transformation in Jerusalem's rural hinterland

Yuval Gadot, Yelena Elgart-Sharon, Nitsan Ben-Melech, Uri Davidovich, Gideon Avni, Yoav Avni, Naomi Porat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The recent success in dating dry farming terraces by Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) enables scholars to evaluate for the first time construction events of terraces in their true social and economic context. Presented here are 36 new ages from two study areas located along the Upper Soreq catchment, highlands of Jerusalem, Israel. Field operations were targeted at locating Bronze Age and Iron Age agricultural activities while evaluating possible methodological limitations in using OSL for dating terraces. The results convincingly show that in the Mediterranean highland environment, soil erosion and rebuilding activities have only a mild impact on the resulting OSL dating. When combining the new ages with the ~60 ages that were published previously in the study area, it is possible to conclude that in the more favorable ecological niches of the highlands of Jerusalem terraces began ca 2400–2200 years ago. This was followed by two or three waves of wide-scale terracing, taking place mainly in the last 800 years. Finally, we were able to recognize a unique ecological niche that preserved ancient (ca 2500 years old) pre-terracing activities as it was not densely covered by later terraces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-583
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


The research was supported by The Israel Science Foundation grant (Grant No. 1691/13 ) awarded to Y.G. and N.P. The Israel Antiquities Authority approved and supported the work (license no. S-320/2011 ). We thank Nadav Lensky for coordinating and helping with the Lidar scans, and Yael Jakobi and Gala Faershtein for OSL sample preparations. We wish to thank Prof. Amihai Mazar, Rotem Elinson, Riki Yona, Ido Wachtel and Omri Yagel for their invaluable help. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1691/13


    • Jerusalem
    • Land use
    • OSL dating
    • Terrace construction


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