- Investigations at the open-air shrine and cairn complex at Ramat Saharonim in the Makhtesh Ramon in the central Negev reveal a sacred precinct or ritual center with a focus on a mortuary cult, attributable to the Late Neolithic, ca. 5000 B.C. The four shrines are aligned with the setting sun of the summer solstice, along with other landscape features. The three tumuli excavated, roughly contemporary with the shrines, revealed primary and secondary burials and intentional bone realignment. Excavations at Shrine 4 allow detailed reconstruction of site formation processes, demonstrating long-term development of the features of the complex. In general, the megalithic aspect of the site, the symbolic aspects of the alignments, and the attribution to the Late Neolithic suggest a close relationship between the rise of the desert cult and tribal society associated with the earliest introduction of domestic herd animals into the central Negev.