January 20, 2000
volume 11, no. 14
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Archeologist Emmanuel Anati Claims to Have Identified Mount Sinai

    ROME, JAN 19 (ZENIT).- An Israeli archeologist claims to have discovered the location of Mount Sinai. He states that Mount Har Karkon, in the Israeli Negeb desert, was the location of the giving of the Ten Commandments, not the Egyptian mountain usually accepted as the site, and which the Holy Father will visit this February.

    Emmanuel Anati's first contact with Mount Har Karkon was as a young, 24-year old archeologist. His attention was riveted by a protrusion in the middle of the desert, which he felt was the silent witness of a stirring history. Mount Har Karkon, in the Negeb desert, in Israeli territory, kept a well-guarded secret: "There were unusual paintings. Pictures of mountain goats and men at prayer. They did not adore an image of the moon or the sun, but a sign without a picture: a simple line, an entity not represented; this was the first thing that impressed me," Anati said.

    At the time, the young researcher did not know that many years later, in 1980 to be precise, he would return as head of an Italian archeological mission and that this mountain would mark his professional life. On January 24, Anati will present his latest book, published by Bayard and entitled "The Mysteries of Mount Sinai," in which he recounts the reasons that have brought him to the conviction that Har Karkon is the real Sinai of which the Bible speaks.

    The author says that Sinai is not north of the Red Sea, as Western knights assumed during the Byzantine period. However, he admits that decades of work will be necessary to prove that statement. Nonetheless, there are findings that are favorable to its being the place of the Commandments. "In the first place, we found the altar and 12 boundary posts at the foot of the mount. Those 12 pillars are mentioned in the pages of the Bible [Ex 24:4]. Then, some 60 meters away, the remains of a Bronze Age camp. This is also mentioned in the Old Testament."

    But this is not all. The archeologist continued with a story reminiscent of the adventures of Indiana Jones. "We also identified that small cave on the side of the mountain where, according to Sacred History, Moses had to hide his face so as not to see God. Having arrived at this point, the coincidences were impressive," explained Anati. "But last year our mission came upon the last discovery that for me is decisive. In parallel work, we excavated a protruding burial mound. We thought we would find the tomb of a famous personage. Instead, it was a commemorative burial mound. In the center, it had an altar, and underneath, the vestiges of a fire. On the altar there was a white stone in the shape of a half moon, about two feet long and weighing almost a hundred pounds: the symbol of the moon god. It was a revelation -- in Mesopotamian culture, the moon god is called Sin. Sinai, therefore, is an attributive form equivalent to 'of Sin.' The Mesopotamian peoples, whom we date at the beginning of the third millennium before Christ, had dedicated Har Karkon to the god Sin. This also explains the mountain goats on the stone paintings: the mountain goat is the sacred animal associated with Sin. Therefore, this mount was the authentic Sinai, a mountain already sacred 1,000 years before Moses."

    Today, Anati's work is an enigma to study, to debate, and to prove. Decades will go by until the information is consolidated, but the hypothesis has certainly whetted researchers' curiosity. ZE00011902


January 20, 2000
volume 11, no. 14

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