The Constructed Desert: A Sacred Cultural Landscape at Har Tzuriaz, Negev, Israel

Lior Schwimer, Roy Galili, Naomi Porat, Guy Bar-Oz, Dani Nadel, Steven A. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past and present cultures perceive their natural landscape as an integral and vital component of their complex worlds, while particular landscape features and associated monuments built in selected locales become sacred and revered through stories, legends and rituals embedded in mundane and ceremonial events. The hyper-arid Har Tzuriaz area in the southern Negev, Israel, offers a case study of culture-geographic continuities over a chronologically cumulative archaeological sequence. The large set of well-preserved structures located adjacent to water sources, a massive escarpment and a major desert crossroads includes campsites, cult sites, rock-art sites, cairn fields and one desert kite (a large game trap). Cultural continuities and change can be traced from the sixth millennium bce through recent times, reflecting a dynamic system of meanings and interpretations of both the natural and the built landscape within one particular sacred area in the desert. These phenomena are exemplified in archaeological analyses of an open-air shrine, burial cairns, an isolated desert kite and a precise engraving of that kite dated 5000 years later, all in the general context of a dense concentration of surveyed sites.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)271-289
Number of pages19
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 25 May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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