Har Karkom, Israel



Red Cedar

Har Karkom

Center (AGIC)


Dr. Jol's Website


Har Karkom is located in the northeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula and has been called the “Mountain of Sanctuaries” (Anati, 2001). Due to the geography of the area (including caves and surrounding geology) and the high density of cult or religious sites found on and around the mountain this site has been proposed to be the Biblical Mount Sinai. The sanctity of Mount Har Karkom seems to start in the Paleolithic time period nearly 40,000 years ago in the form of forty flint monoliths placed by Paleolithic man.  The high quality flint that is found on the plateau of Mount Har Karkom is probably why Paleolithic man first came to this area (Anati, 2001).  Before metal, flint was the primary tool making resource of early humans. During the early part of the Bronze Age, between 4000 and 2000 BC, human activity on Har Karkom and its surrounding area seems to have reached its peak based on the large amount of archaeological data from this time period.  Flint was no longer the primary tool making material but it was still used for ceremonial rituals.  The plateau of the mountain is literally littered with cult sites from this time period while the valleys around the mountain are covered with living areas of the people who came to this mountain to live or worship (Anati, 2001). 

Project Description
Dr. Richard Freund and a team of specialists including Dr. Harry Jol went to Mount Har Karkom in the Spring of 2007 to do preliminary work at four selected sites on the mountain. Findings of this expedition included Bronze Age pottery, hundreds of sacrificial altars, as well as 40,000 rock art pieces including one series that may illustrate the tablet that held the Ten Commandments (Dresner, 2007).

One portion of this survey included the collection of ground penetrating radar (GPR) lines. Besides the preliminary inspection in the field, these GPR lines have not been processed and analyzed. The purpose of my project is to process and analyze these lines in order to provide site archaeologist information on the subsurface of these sites.

Analysis & Interpretation
The primary geomorphic force at work in this area is fluvial. Based on this information, the GPR lines should show bedding consistent with fluvial forces. If there are any areas that deviate from this kind of bedding, then that means that this area was disturbed, most likely by humans. Once the lines are processed, 3D images of the subsurface of some of the sites can be created providing addition easy in the interpretation of features. Any disturbed areas will be marked and sent off to the site archaeologist.

Anati, E., 2001. The Riddle of Mount Sinai: Archaeological Discoveries at Har Karkom. Edizoni Centro. Vol.21, pp. 192.  

Dresner, S., 2007. ISO ‘the real Mount Sinai’ UHa professor says he found the real thing. Jewish Ledger, April 24.

Grant Proposal



UWEC - Seal

Last Update: December 3, 2007

Jacob M. McDonald
phone: (715) 210-5407
email: mcdonajm@uwec.edu or jacob.m.mcdonald@gmail.com