Desert kites in the Negev desert and northeast Sinai: Their function, chronology and ecology

A. Holzer, U. Avner, N. Porat, L. K. Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Desert kites are stone-built, funnel-shaped installations comprising two long and low stone-built walls ('arms') converging on an enclosure or pit at the apex. They are found in the deserts of the Near East, and are generally accepted as representing game traps to catch herds of wild ungulates. Their chronology is debated but some desert kites appear to have functioned as early as the 7th millennium BC. The largest number of these structures is recorded in the deserts of eastern Jordan where they often form chains of up to 60 km long. In contrast, in the Negev (Israel) and Sinai (Egypt) deserts, the desert kites are few in number and occur as small, individual installations. This paper presents the results of archaeological surveys and excavations of 16 desert kites from the Negev desert and northeast Sinai. We present radiocarbon dates, infrared stimulated luminescence ages and chronology of material culture to show that desert kites in this region were established in the late 4th-early 3rd millennia BC and ceased to function by the mid-2nd millennium BC. The size, shape and location of the desert kites fits the physical conditions of the terrain and also the ethology and ecology of the prey species hunted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-817
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


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