Fourth-millennium-BC 'leopard traps' from the Negev desert (Israel)

Naomi Porat, Uzi Avner, Assaf Holzer, Rahamim Shemtov, Liora Kolska Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Stone-built installations known as 'leopard traps' are found throughout the deserts of the Middle East. They have generally been considered to be recent in date, and to have been built by Bedouin or other local communities to trap carnivores that threatened their flocks. But how much older might they be? Survey in the hyper-arid 'Uvda Valley of the southern Negev Desert in Israel discovered 23 'leopard traps', 19 of them clustered in a relatively small area. This study describes the architecture and function of these structures and presents the first optically stimulated luminescence ages for two of them. These results demonstrate that the traps are ancient and were already in use before the late fourth millennium BC, not long after the adoption of herding by the desert dwellers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-727
Number of pages14
Issue number337
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • 'Uvda Valley
  • Arabian leopard
  • Israel
  • Leopard traps
  • Negev Desert
  • OSL


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