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Chronological Trends in Negev Rock Art: The Har Michia Petroglyphs as a Test Case
Israel Antiquity Authority, Omer Industrial Park, P.O. Box 271, Building 3D, Omer 84965, Israel
Archaeological Division Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 August 2013; in revised form: 27 September 2013 / Accepted: 8 October 2013 / Published: 18 October 2013
Abstract: Negev rock art comprises a large and diverse corpus of motifs and compositions developed over the course of several millennia. As dating of specific elements is at present not possible, the rock art was analyzed statistically through the study of individual panels where internal sequences of engraving could be discerned. Examining the set of such individual sequences, larger scale reconstruction of engraving phases, sequences and patterns were recognized. Additional chronological markers, such as the presence of domestic camels or other chronologically diagnostic features, offer benchmarks for tying the general trends to more absolute frameworks. The reconstructed patterns reflect the long term history of the Negev and some of the most significant cultural and social transitions in the region are reflected visually through the rock art, notably a form of self-expression, a crucial complement to the historical sequences derived from sedentary peoples living farther north. For example the introduction of the domestic camel and its symbolic and economic significance is well evident in the rock art. Similarly, the emergence of Islam is expressed through the mark makers’ preference for "abstract" (non-figurative) motifs. One motif found throughout all engraving phases, transcending the religious, political and economic structures of Negev society, is the “ibex”. Although Negev societies have all focused, to one degree or another, on sheep and goat pastoralism, these animals are rarely present in the Negev rock art and never as herds. Ibex, whose role in the diet and daily subsistence was minimal, was the most commonly depicted zoomorphic motif.
Keywords: petroglyphs; Negev; chronology; Har Michia; ibex; camel
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Eisenberg-Degen, D.; Rosen, S.A. Chronological Trends in Negev Rock Art: The Har Michia Petroglyphs as a Test Case. Arts 2013, 2, 225-252.
Eisenberg-Degen D, Rosen SA. Chronological Trends in Negev Rock Art: The Har Michia Petroglyphs as a Test Case. Arts. 2013; 2(4):225-252.
Eisenberg-Degen, Davida; Rosen, Steven A. 2013. "Chronological Trends in Negev Rock Art: The Har Michia Petroglyphs as a Test Case." Arts 2, no. 4: 225-252.