Map of Mount KarkomLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Mount Karkom is one of the most mysterious and interesting sites in Israel, But also, one of the least known and most rarely visited.
Mount Karkom is a Table-Shaped mountain with an altitude of 840 meters ASL that rises very steeply, 200 meters above the surrounding landscape, and is clearly visible from afar. It is situated in a remote location in the Negev Desert in Israel and can be reached only on foot. But, reaching it on foot is not an easy task. First, you have to reach the desert town on Mitspe Ramon. From there you will need to drive an additional 80 Km. Most of the way is on rough dirt roads that can be managed only with a 4WD vehicle. From the foot of the mountain, it's a short but steep 5-10 Km hike to tour the mountain. To make it more difficult, the mount Karkom is located in the middle of an IDF training zone that is closed to the public most of the year. It is open for travelers on the Hanukah holiday (1 week in December), and on Passover (1 week in April). Given all these limitations, one can understand why even most Israeli's had never visited it.
I was lucky to visit it during a four days mountain bike journey from Mitspe Ramon to Eilat. During the 2nd day of the journey, we parked our bikes at the foot of the mountain and made a truly memorable hike to the summit and its archeological sites. It is an experience I will never forget. The combination of the spectacular desert scenery, unique archeology, and the sense of adventure combine into a unique experience.
Archeology and ancient art on Mount Karkom
Archaeological remains have been found on the summit of the mountain and its surroundings, most of which date to the Paleolithic period, the Chalcolithic period, and the Early Bronze Age. In addition to these sites, Mount Karkom and its immediate surroundings are filled with more than 40,000 rock art engravings and numerous anthropomorphic (human-like) sculptures.
The 40,000 rock engravings s the largest complex of rock engravings known in the Negev and Sinai, and their time ranges from prehistoric times to modern times. Some of the engravings are reminiscent of biblical scenes or imply belief in one God, including human figures facing abstract symbols like a human figure praying with raised hands.
The Paleolithic temple discovered in 1992 is more than 30,000 years old and consists of forty large flint rocks with natural shapes collected at the top of the mountain by ancient humans. The area was abandoned in the Neolithic period and returned to be active again in the Bronze Age. At the top of the mountain are burial and worship sites, and at its foot are residential and parking sites dating to this period.
Read more from Erezspeiser here.