I first came upon the mountain in 1955, when I was conducting an archaeological survey in the Negev on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities. My specific interest was the virtually unknown rock art of the area—figures and signs engraved by ancient people on rocks. When I published Palestine Before the Hebrews (New York: Knopf, 1963), I devoted an entire chapter to this unusual rock art.a
In 1955, I knew the mountain as Jebel Ideid. That is what the Bedouin called it. It was located in Israel just four miles from the border with Egypt, about 65 miles south of my field base at the young Kibbutz of Sde Boker, where David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, lived.
On this mountain I found the richest concentration of rock art in the Negev, located between the huge gorgeknown as the Machtesh Ramon and the Aravah Valley that extends from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat.