MemberApril 19, 2021 at 8:04 am
Well, that was boring… I should have explained. 35,000 is a lot of rock engravings for a small area of the southern deserts. There are some recurring themes: footprints (like the rough outlines of two feet), worshipping/praying human stick figures (as defended by Anati above), and ibex (4-legged animal stick figures with long backward-curved horns). Anati identifies all of these as cultic symbols, the ibex connected with the moon-god Sin, their parallel horns from the side view suggesting a crescent moon. The dating of rock art is controversial, depending on the interpretation of the styles and the patina (how dark the scratchings have become from the effects of sun, oxidation, and possibly microbial growth), and their proximity to other dateable remains. In a way, it doesn’t matter when the rock art was created; the facts that it long predated modern times, has a distinctly religious nature overall, and that there is a much higher concentration around this mount than elsewhere in the Sinai and Negev, is significant enough.
Nelson Glueck also explored the vicinity of the mount in 1957-8, of which he wrote:
[236-7] There was another amazing concentration of rock drawings farther south in the Negev on the slopes and tops of high, truncated hills, called the Jebel Ideid (Har Geshur). A much-used trail employed continuation of the great north-south route, which, commencing at Beersheba, touches Abdah… and skirts the hills of Jebel Ideid…. Numerous trails converged there from southwestern Sinai and from the southernmost Negev, which threaded both to important centers of trade and settlement….
[237-8] The position and prominence of Jebel Ideid (Odeid), which of old may have had a certain sanctity attached to it, may explain why so many of them [rock engravings], together with occasional inscriptions, were chiseled into the blackened surfaces of its large sandstone boulders and smooth rock faces. There is, we think, a certain religious feeling reflected in them.
Glueck, Nelson. <i class="">Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev. Vol. 5. Evergreen Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Grove, 1959.