Numerous ancient sites dedicated to sex and death have been discovered in the Eilat Mountains, an exceptionally dry region located in Israel’s Negev Desert. But it is not the sex artifacts found there that are a puzzle the scientists. It is the impressive number of this cult sites, where they were found and the lack of living sites to go with them.
The cult areas, dated to around 6,000 BCE, display a variety of relics and structures. The sites have similar stone circles, 5 to 8 feet wide with penis molded carvings pointed towards them. Numerous sites additionally have standing stones, human figurines and stone pottery. Eros and Thantos are common themes in the history of human scared rituals and appear to have been the central concepts in these cult sites as well.
Apart from the phallus-shaped stones a few of the sites have structures with vulva molded holes. The scientists think that the stone circles are also symbols for females. Uzi Avner, a specialist with the Arava-Dead Sea Science Center and the Arava Institute was quoted detailing this by Live Science.
The arrangement of the sites also seems to be a symbolic one. The archeologists suggest that the areas were positioned in flat regions of the mountains with a large view.Their report, published in the Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society, noted:
“Their position on topographic ‘shoulders’ or comparatively flat locations probably enabled several dozens of people to gather around them, for example, an extended family. Commonly, a broad view is seen from the sites, so possibly, the scenery was one element in the selection of their location.”
As indicated by the research team, buried stone items in an upside down position are a symbol of death in the sites. The scientists found among the sites a buried stone having a human-like carving and traces of animal offerings.
Regardless of their cult destination, the followers of the ancient religion obviously thought that it was essential to have an extensive number of these sites. Only in a 200 acres land area the group found 44 different sites. The analysts noted that the density of the sites in the area is remarkable considering the geology, natural conditions and the little number of known Neolithic residences in the southern Negev.
The area is very dry desert, where the yearly level of precipitation is less than an inch. However, it is most likely that when the sites were populated by adherents the environmental conditions might have been somewhat better but still insufficient to prompt habitation.
The group also discovered three residence areas close to the site all of which appeared to be connected with religious practices. Apart from the 100 sites examined so far, a review of the region has yielded an extra 349 locales which are to be excavated in the future.
Image Source: NBC News