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This article explores social structures and family competition in late antique Nessana. Nessana, a small village in the Negev, is attested through archaeological, papyrological, and epigraphic remains. This evidence shows that the engine of social change was family power. Nessana experienced remarkable growth, including construction of four new churches and two monasteries. The driving forces behind each institution came from distinct local families in ongoing competition with one another. This localizing model of family power challenges the standard models of provincial economy and society in the late antique east, which imagine a world of great estates and powerful aristocrats.