The V-shaped desert kites and their contribution to the Timnian economy

Dani Nadel, Guy Bar-Oz, Avi Perevolotsky, Dan Malkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Desert kites are communal game traps that were used to harvest herds of ungulates, and there are more than 6000 in the arid zones of southwestern Asia. The oldest were dated to the 9th millennium cal B.C. and some were reused until the beginning of the 20th century. A wide range of types and dimensions is found throughout the region, but only the small V-shaped type is found in the cultural landscape of the Timnian, a Mid-Holocene culture in the southern Levantine deserts. The Timnian economy was based on nomadic pastoralism, rearing small herds of goats/sheep. In the southern Levantine deserts, pastoralism had to be augmented by other carbohydrate sources. It is apparent that the Timnians invested much effort and resources in kite construction to hunt ungulates; however, faunal assemblages from habitation camps, burial fields and ceremonial complexes show very few bones of hunted game. Here we test two competing hypotheses: the use of kites to augment food supply, versus the use of kites for social or ceremonial purposes. We review the Timnian culture, the local kites, and cost-benefits considerations, as well as issues regarding desert pastoralism. We conclude that the kites were mostly used in social and ceremonial contexts.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105120
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Desert economy
  • Game traps
  • Gazelle
  • Middle Holocene
  • Ungulate hunting
  • Wild ass

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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