Desert kites – 2400 year old animal traps in Sinai

There is an interesting item on the Discovery News website which suggests that extensive systems of low walls in the eastern Sinai were traps for wild herds of ungulates, particularly gazelle, ibex and wild ass.   The full details will be reported in a paper which will appear in the July 2010 editon of the Journal of Arid Environments.

The walls are thought to form barriers to the herds which funneled them into corners where they could be trapped and killed.   The so-called “desert kites” are thought to be between 2500 and 2400 years old.   The news story is not clear about the evidence which has led researchers to this conclusion, but contributing factors seem to be the relationship of the desert kites to pastures and migration routes.  According to the authors of the paper  many seem to have fallen out of use during the Middle Bronze Age in the southern Negev.

The paper, entitled Desert kites in the Negev desert and northeast Sinai: Their function, chronology and ecology (pages 806-817), is by A. Holzer, U. Avner, N. Porat, L.K. Horwitz.  It is available for purchase at the Journal’s website, and there is an Abstract and Article Outline available.

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