The aim of this study is to trace the scope and characteristics of the rural settlement in the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Early Islamic period (until the end of the Umayyad period). The study focuses on the populated parts of the country and less so on the desert and semi-arid regions, which have been extensively studied in the past. The study tries to deal with known problems regarding the dating of sites and strata of the Early Islamic period in our region through the examination of various survey maps and especially excavated sites, which the present lecture will focus on.
I divided the excavated sites into the following types:
  1. Sites where no destruction or some kind or essential change in the plan and character of the settlement was noted, unequivocal finds are absent from them, such as coins or datable inscriptions, and their chronology is based entirely or in part on pottery that characterizes both the Late Byzantine period and the beginning of the Islamic period.
  2. Sites where finds were discovered that clearly indicate the continuity of the settlement and population that dwelled in them in the Byzantine period to the beginning of the Early Islamic period.
  3. Sites whose scope and/or function or population composition underwent a change during the Umayyad period.
  4. Sites where changes were noted in their character and population composition during the 8th or 9th century, i.e. the latter part of the Umayyad period or the beginning of the Abbasid period.
  5. Settlements that were founded in the latter part of the Byzantine period or beginning of the Umayyad period (i.e. during the 7th century) and flourished mainly from the 8th century onward, apparently as a result of the social and economic processes that transpired in the Land of Israel in the wake of the Muslim conquest
From a review of the types of excavated sites and from the information (the little and uncertain that exists) that has been derived from the surveys, it seems that during the first decades following the Muslim conquest, and possibly even until the end of the 7th century, no significant change occurred in the scope of the rural settlement in the Land of Israel. Beginning mainly in the second part of the Umayyad period and accelerating from the 8th century onward, direct and indirect changes in the economy of the region on the one hand, and increasing pressure by the Muslim authorities on the other, gradually resulted in the weakening of quite a few rural settlements and the slow decline in their scope and numbers.