Mount Sinai has been found: 20 years of Biblical Archaeology in the desert of Exodus. The real Mount Sinai has been found by Prof. Emmanuel Anati at Har Karkom.
Emmanuel Anati:
Gordon Franz:

Many recent discoveries have contributed information that requires time to be adequately analysed

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Mount Sinai has been found.


ACHEULIAN: A flint industry of the Lower Palaeolithic named after the site of Saint-Acheul in France. It is characterised by the presence of bifacial "hand axes". This industry is widespread in Africa, Asia and Europe. It is well represented in the Har Karkom area.

AIN: (Hebrew) water spring (also EIN)

"ANTHROPO-ZOOMORPHIC" STONES (OR ROCKS): This term defines natural boulders with peculiar anthropomorphic and/or zoomorphic natural shapes which appear to have been collected by early man. Frequently such stones have been retouched by man emphasising some of the characteristic features like eyes, nose or hand-fingers. In Har Karkom about 60 such collections of "anthropo-zoomorphic" stones have been detected.

ATERIAN: A North African stone industry named after Bir el-Ater in Tunisia, belonging to the Late Middle Palaeolithic. It is widespread over the Maghreb, the Sahara and the Nile Valley. It is characterised by flake tools which have notches and tangs, presumably used for hafting. At Har Karkom, Aterian-like tanged implements are recorded in several sites.

AURIGNACIAN: A flint industry named after the French site of Aurignac, belonging to an early phase of the Upper Palaeolithic. It is mainly characterised by blades with heavy marginal retouch and carinated steep end-scrapers. Different faces of Aurignacian are known in Europe and the Near East. At Har Karkom an "Aurignacian-like" industry is characterised by the above-mentioned type-tools, of rather large size. In our sequence it is considered as Early Upper Palaeolithic.

BAB: (Arabic) door; passageway; sea strait; mountain pass

BAC PERIOD: BAC is an abbreviation of Bronze Age Complex. It is a cultural period abundantly represented in the area, which has been defined in detail in The Mountain of God, [E. Anati, 1986: 88-99]. It covers the late Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age to the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, probably the entire third and fourth millennia BC. The pottery is scanty and the abundant flint implements do not show, so far, substantial changes between the three cultural horizons which are tentatively defined as: 1) Early BAC, fourth millennium BC; 2) Middle BAC, first half of the third millennium and 3) Late BAC as the late third millennium. Throughout the period, the flint implements reflect a Chalcolithic tradition. The rare pottery fragments of the Early BAC correspond to a typology of late Chalcolithic ; the Middle BAC to a typology of Early Bronze Age II and Late BAC to a typology of the final Early Bronze Age (EBIV-MBI).

BEER: (Hebrew) water hole; well

BIR: (Arabic) water hole; well

BOR: (pl: BOROT) (Hebrew) puddle; pool

BOULDER: large stone, normally isolated, often encircled by stones intentionally piled up against it.

BUSTAN: (Arabic) fruit tree orchard or garden

CAMPSITE: This term is used for sites having hut floors cleared from stone; usually they belong to various Palaeolithic periods as evidenced by the flint implements which constitute their context. Their shape and size varies from period to period and may help to identify the specific phase of the Palaeolithic to which they belong. Some rare cases of such campsites may be connected with BAC flint implements.

CANAL: Device built by man to direct water course. Usually canals are marked by rows and stones, in slopes, leading to waterholes.

CAVE: Cavern which is deeper than the height of its entrance. Shallow caves, where the height of the entrance measures more than its depth, are referred to as rock-shelters.

COURTYARD SITE: A typical habitation site of the BAC period usually belonging to Early and Middle BAC; that may continue in Late BAC. It consists of several stone foundations that together form large rounded courtyards with small rooms attached to the walls. Often around a large central structure are smaller structures, which seem to have been added later. These complexes also include simple stone enclosures added onto the outer walls.

CROMLECH: Archaeological term of Breton origin to define a circle made of stones or boulders

DERB: (Arabic) trail or road

DEKEL: (Hebrew) palm tree

EIN: (Arabic and Hebrew) water spring (also AIN)

EMEK: (Hebrew) valley

ENCAMPMENT: A temporary habitation site where no permanent structures have been detected. It is found in all the periods represented at Har Karkom and its dating is determined by the material culture found on the spot.

ENCLOSURE: A stone-built structure usually forming round or oval shape and supposedly used as an animal pen

ENCOCHE: A notch or tang produced by retouch on the edge of a flint implement.

FIREPLACE OR HEARTH: Is a place which has an indication that fire was utilised. The indications may be an arrangement of stones or the colour, or remains of ashes, or rocks having fire cracked surfaces.

FORTRESS: military post

GEOGLYPH: Figure or shape produced on the ground by the clearing of stones or the building of stone alignments. Some of the geoglyphs are of large dimension and can be seen only from the air. So far in Har Karkom 25 sites with geoglyphs have been found.

GHEV: (pl: GHEVIM) (Hebrew) puddle to collect rainwater

GILGAL: (Hebrew) round or circular area; can denote a stone circle

GRAVETTIAN: A flint industry named after the French site of La Gravette. In Western Europe it is a middle Upper Palaeolithic kind of assemblage. It is characterised by backed and pointed blades. Various faces of this industry are widespread over Europe. In the Near East there are "Gravettian-like" industries. Similar industries are sometimes named with the misleading term of "Ahmarian". We refer to them as "Middle Upper Palaeolithic".

HAMADA: (Arabic) expanse of stone fragments covering the ground.

HAMLET SITE: Mainly Late BAC. Similar clusters of buildings appear also in Roman-Byzantine times. So far it is not detected in other periods. A dwelling from BAC period consists of an agglomeration of low walls which can include over ten rooms and little courtyards. Here the large central courtyard is usually missing. The type is often associated to tumuli, pillars and paved platforms. The pattern of settlement appears to represent a rather permanent kind of settlement. It has threshing courtyards and other elements of agriculture character.

HAMULA: (Bedouin) extended family group

HAR: (Hebrew) mountain

HEAPS OF STONES: Heaps of stones are small piles of stones usually grouped and sometimes serving as a base for standing stones. They may be grave markers or other kind of signals on the surface.

HUT FLOOR: Surface cleaned of stones which have been pushed aside. Such hut-floors are usually found in groups and define the location of campsites.

INSCRIPTIONS: Writing on stone usually is done by methods of engraving or painting. The main scripts found so far in the area are Arabic, Thamudic, Safaitic, Nabataean and "Early Semitic Other".

JEBEL: (Arabic) mountain

KARKOMIAN: Flint industry typical of Har Karkom where it is present in at least sixteen sites. It is characterised by large blades cut and retouched with the Levallois technique, along with Aurignacian-like backed blades, points and end scrapers, and occasional burins on blades. There is a debate whether it should be considered Late Middle Palaeolithic or Early Upper Palaeolithic as it has mixed characteristics. Tentative, it is considered by us as an early phase of Upper Palaeolithic.

KHARABA: (Arabic) small cave where rainwater is collected

LAVAN: (Hebrew) white; Nahal Lavan= white river

LEVALLOIS TECHNIQUE: A technique of flaking which is typical of the Middle Palaeolithic but may persist in later assemblages. Flakes are removed from prepared cores where the flakings form a tortois-like pattern. The name comes from the site of Levallois, a suburb of Paris in France. This technique is widespread in the Middle Palaeolithic industries of the Near East.

LIVING SITES-OTHER: Under this name are entered in the definition of site typology those living sites which do not belong to any of the defined categories.

MAAGURA: (Hebrew) cistern or tank

MAAHAL: (Arabic) encampment; group of tents

MAALE: (Hebrew) climb; trail that climbs up a mountain

MACHTESH: (Hebrew) crater

MASSEBAH: (pl. Masseboth) (Hebrew) orthostat; boulder; standing stone; menhir

MENHIR: (archaeological term of Breton origin) orthostat, boulder, standing stone, massebah

MIDBAR: (Hebrew) desert; also can refer to grazing ground

MOUSTERIAN: A flint industry of the Middle Palaeolithic named after the French site of Le Moustier. It is characterised by flint flakes retouched to obtain side scrapers, points and knives. Among the various faces of Mousterian found at Har Karkom is the Mousterian of Acheulean tradition which includes bifacial tools, a kind of Mousterian with denticulated pieces and a Levallois-Mousterian faces with a wealth of scrapers and points on flakes executed by a Levalloisian technique. (see Levallois Technique)

MUGHARA: (Arabic) cave (Hebrew: meara)

NAHAL: (Hebrew) wadi, river bed; also seasonal river that can be dry for most of the year

NAWAMIS: (Arabic) large tumulus, constructed with flat stones without mortar; the cist grave, or mortuary receptacle inside, is covered over with a large stone slab

ORTHOSTAT: Standing stone, menhir, pillar. A large stone erected vertically. If the stone is artificially shaped just in its outline it is termed "slab". If it is shaped and carved with pictograms and/or ideograms, it is defined as "stele".

OTHER SITE: A site that does not belong to any of the defined types of sites.

PECKING TOOL: Stone implement showing traces of use on a point. They are usually found on engraved rocks or near to them. They are likely to have been used for producing rock engraving by pecking.

PLAZA SITE: Plaza sites are stone-built assemblages of structures organised in large circles round a vast central plaza. These plaza site may consist of up to 26 structures and reach a diameter of over 80 meters. Some of the structures are round or oval in shape and may measure up to seven-eight meters in diameter. They appear to be living quarters. Occasionally they have a sort of courtyard on one side. Others are platforms near which are dug silos surrounded by circles of stones and small stone-built storing structures. Others today appear as heaps of stones. They are typical of Early BAC and continue in Middle BAC.

QUARRY: A quarry is a site where people collected flint or other stones extracting them from the soil.

RAS: (Arabic) head; peak; summit of mountain

RETEM: (Hebrew) name of a tree

ROCK ART: Rock engravings of any time, from the end of Pleistocene to Islamic period. It has been divided in ten different periods according to style and relative chronology.

ROCK SHELTER: Is a concave area in a cliff where the cliff overhangs. It is a shallow cave: the height of the shelters usually measures more than its depth.

ROTEM: (Hebrew) name of a tree

ROW SITE: Row sites are made up of a series of oval, circular or angular structures arranged in a row. This pattern of settlement is likely to be a seasonal site which is revisited more than once. It is found in connection with material culture of Late BAC, but also in the Iron Age, Hellenistic and Roman-Byzantine times.

SHRINE: By this term we consider structures having altars, platforms and/or orthostats organised according to recurring patterns. "Private shrines" are stone circles of small size surrounding or including one or more orthostats. "Spiral shrines" are stone built structures having the walls organised in a spiral shape, with an altar or a platform inside.

SLAB: Stone plate which has been cut and shaped by human action. (see also orthostat)

STATION: This term is used for sites with remains of material culture which have no trace of structures or hut floor. They may have served as a stop or bivouac. Such sites are present in all recorded periods.

STELE: Standing stone shaped and carved by man. (see also orthostat)

STONE ALIGNMENTS: Lines of stones. Sequence of orthostats or standing stones.

STORING SHELTER: Stone built storing structures in rock shelters. Usually they belong to the Islamic period.

TERRACE OR AGRICULTURAL TERRACE: Stone-built wall usually found on lateral wadi valleys with a mild slope, which have the purpose of retaining earth and water in cultivated land.

TELL: (Hebrew and Arabic) artificial hillock formed by the ruins of settlements, earth and sand that have accumulated over time

THAMILA: (Arabic) water hole

WADI: (Arabic) river bed that is dry for a good part of the year

WASM: (pl: WUSUM) (Arabic) tribal symbol of property with which Bedouins brand their camels and goats; they engrave it near water holes and cave-storeplaces to indicate property claims

WATERHOLE: Ground depression where rainwater is collected. Frequently around water holes there are man-made canals that convey water.


Each site yielded an assemblage of information that was recorded by members of the expedition teams, who transcribed the essential elements onto memorised files according to the following sequence of data:

HK and BK: The area of exploration was subdivided into two large sectors: HK = HAR KARKOM; BK = BEER KARKOM. The HK sector is provided here.

Site number: Sites were numbered progressively, according to the chronological order of the exploration and reconnaissance. The numbers provided here for each site are: 1) survey number; 2) coordinates, according to the Israel grid.

Coordinates: The coordinates correspond to those used in the 1:100,000 geographical maps of the State of Israel ("Reshet Israel"). They consist of two numbers of three digits each. The first number refers to the north-south coordinate, and the second to the east-west coordinate. Together they define the one - square - Kilometer quadrant within which the site is located. Each number is then followed by 2 decimal numbers that indicate the distance, starting from the southwestern corner of the quadrant to the site itself, in hundred-meter sections. Five digit coordinates provide the location within a square of 10x10 m.

Structures, Rock Art, Description: : Each site may contain descriptions of either structures or rock art, both, or neither. It may also contain only finds without structures, structures without rock art, or rock art without structures. The various elements are indicated when relevant.

Finds: These are mentioned only when they have been recorded. Standard finds such as plain Islamic pottery or non typical flint implements, have been collected, recorded and then left in situ. Only significant examples of material culture have been collected for further study. When the finds are not relevant in terms of quality or quantity, they are not mentioned. The dating is provided in the subsequent entry.

Periods: Each entry may include either the period of material culture remains (MC) or the stylistic and chronological characteristics of rock art (RA), or both. When both categories are mentioned they are itemised in two distinct lines.

Site Typology: Key words from the description are repeated for easy search of the various types of sites and of archaeological remains.

Bibliography: References are provided to previously published descriptions of the site.


BKBeer Karkom
COORDCoordinates based on the grid "Reshet Israel' maps
HCHut circles of the Palaeolithic type
HKHar Karkom
LABLaboratory analyses
MCMaterial culture
NDNot dated
RARock art
STStone dwelling structure
StructuresThis term, in addition to stone structures, includes hut floors, areas cleared of stones, flint-cutting workshops, and any other visible remains that reveal manmade changes to the surface
TGPlan, topographical map or other form of graphic recording that has been made


LPLower Palaeolithic
MPMiddle Palaeolithic
UPUpper Palaeolithic
EPIEpi-Palaeolithic and Mesolithic
BACBronze Age Complex (Late Chalcolithic, Early and beginning of Middle Bronze Age)
MBMiddle Bronze Age
LBLate Bronze Age
IAIron Age


Initials of photographers and of draughtsmen:

AA: Ariela Anati; AP: Auguste Putelli; CZ: Candida Zani; DA: Daniel Anati; EA: Emmanuel Anati; EM: Elena Mauri; EP: Elena Pelucco; GC: Gigi Cottinelli; FM: Federico Mailland; IM: Ida Mailland; RB: Rosetta Bastoni; RP: Rodolfo Pozzi.

References for the Survey map

ANATI Emmanuel

- L'arte rupestre del Negev e del Sinai, Milan (Jaca Book), 1979, 76 pp. - La Montagna di Dio. Har Karkom, Milan (Jaca Book); Eng. ed.: The Mountain of God, New York (Rizzoli); Fr. ed.: La Montagne de Dieu. Har Karkom, Paris/Milan (Payot Weber/Jaca Book), 1986, 358 pp. - I Siti a Plaza di Har Karkom, Capo di Ponte (Edizioni del Centro), 1987, 240 pp. - Har Karkom In the Light of New Discoveries, Studi Camuni, vol. 11, Capo di Ponte (Edizioni del Centro), 1993, 96 pp.; It. Ed.: Spedizione Sinai. Nuove scoperte ad Har Karkom, SC vol. 11, Capo di Ponte (Edizioni del Centro), 1994, 112 pp. - With L. Cottinelli & F. Mailland, Il santuario pi� antico del mondo, Archaeologia Viva, vol. 15/56, 1996, pp. 26-38. - The Rock Art of Har Karkom, BCSP, vol. 29, 1996, pp. 13-48.

AVNI Gideon

- Map of Har Saggi Northeast (225), Archaeological survey of Israel, Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority), 1992, 98* pp.


- Arte rupestre: Har Karkom e il dio Sin, in F. Mailland (ed.), Har Karkom e Monte Sinai: Archaeologia e Mito, Milan (Comune di Milano, Settore Cultura e Musei, Civiche raccolte Archaeologiche), 1998, pp. 25-34, 119.


- I siti di epoca ellenistica, romana, bizantina. Aspetti sociali, in F. Mailland (ed.), Har Karkom e Monte Sinai: Archaeologia e Mito, Milan (Comune di Milano, Settore Cultura e Musei, Civiche raccolte Archaeologiche), pp. 39-55.


- Har Karkom.: La montagna di Dio, Mediterraneo, vol. 1/2, pp. 49-57.


- Har Karkom nel palaeolitico: l'importanza del luogo, Valcamonica Symposium'92, 1992, 13 pp. - Har Karkom: le origini del mito, Valcamonica Symposium'95, 1995, 17 pp. - With E. Anati & L. Cottinelli, Il santuario pi� antico del mondo, Archaeologia Viva, vol. 15/56, 1996, pp. 26-38. - Har Karkom nel Palaeolitico: il passaggio, la presenza e i fenomeni di culto, in F. Mailland (ed.), Har Karkom e Monte Sinai: Archaeologia e Mito, Milan (Comune di Milano, Settore Cultura e Musei, Civiche raccolte Archaeologiche), pp. 9-14, 113-116.

MAILLAND Federico & Ida

- The Har Karkom Plateau During the Palaeolithic, Valcamonica Symposium'93, 1993, 13 pp.


- Ricognizione e scavo del sito 221 bis nella zona di Har Karkom (Negev Israeliano), BCSP, vol. 28, 1995, pp. 106-114.

Fig. 158a/b. Rock engraving called 'the eye that watches from the rock.' A large eye has seven lines arrayed from the bottom and seven from the top. (Site HK 36b; photo EA98: LVIII-5; drawing: HK Archive; WARA W06016, W06017).

Cover | Mount Sinai | Sanctuaries | Hypothesis | Exegesis | Testimony | Landscape | Discoveries | Rock Art | History | Conclusions | HK Survey | HK Periods | HK Rock Art | HK Corpus 1-99 | 100-199 | 200-299 | 300-399 | BK Corpus 100-399 | 400-499 | 500-599 | 600-699 | 700-799 | 800-899 | Glossary | Acknowledgements | Emmanuel Anati | Bibliography | Edizioni | CCSP | Images | Links

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