For sedentary peoples living in the villages, towns, and cities of the arable zones, desert living is perceived as inherently harsh, hazardous, and subject to the disasters associated with arid environments; in fact, when viewed from the appropriate larger scale, integrating the geographic mobility integral to desert social systems, desert societies may be less prone to collapse than their sedentary cousins. If, on the face of it, the archaeological record of Negev cultures is one of demographic fluctuation, that record also suggests that adaptations to deserts result in cultural continuities not evident in the settled zone.
Factors touching directly on this question of arid zone susceptibilities to collapse include issues of scale of analysis, non-correlation of desert zone culture sequences with those of the settled zone, the differences between mobile cultures and sedentary cultures in terms of resilience, the difference between seasonal mobility and long-term territorial shifts, fundamental flexibilities in the social structures of mobile peoples, and social and economic linkages between desert societies and their mobile cousins. Considering these various factors, even the definitions of social collapse must be examined and modified when applied to desert peoples.
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