Courtyards tell us something about ancient economic life in the Negev. Courtyards were enclosures for animals. Relatively large courtyards suggest that the residents were primarily animal herders, whereas relatively small courtyards indicate few animals and a reliance on personal crop farming.

This graph shows that relatively large courtyard settlements predominate at higher altitudes. Settlements in which the courtyards and built-up areas are equal and settlements in which the courtyards are small relative to the built-up areas are for the most part at lower altitudes. Above 550 meters, 12 out of 18 settlements have relatively large courtyards; at 550 meters and below, 14 out of 17 settlements have relatively small courtyards.