Book: Community Archaeology in Israel/Palestine
Chapter: Community Archaeology and the Har Michia Rock Art Park in the Negev/al-Naqab
Our paper unpacks the multivocality of approaches taken in the decade-long endeavor to establish a petroglyph rock art park at Har Michia in the highland region of the Negev/Naqab desert. The open-air park has minimal infrastructure, providing free access for the public to engage with clusters of rock engravings containing motifs that are typical to the region. Initiated as a community archaeology venture, the undertaking was spearheaded by the Negev Rock Art Center, a provisional group comprising both local Jewish and Naqab Bedouin stakeholders who together secured institutional backing. Their joint goal was to highlight rock art as a heritage resource for research, education, and the development of regional eco-tourism. However, tensions ensued. During this period the central government announced plans to resettle resident Bedouin communities and concentrate them in a single fixed, semi-urban setting. Consequently, the Bedouin faction distanced itself from the project as they apparently associated it with the broader attempts to curtail their sovereignty of movement and ability to settlement in the Negev. Currently, the park is operating and serves as a tourist site, but unfortunately fails to function as a bridge between local communities who aim to preserve a mutually cherished heritage.