A ceremony for the establishment of the Center for Rock Carvings was held at the opening of the conference.
In his welcoming speech, Council Mayor Shmuel Rifman said, “The rock drawings belong to the entire public, not just the chosen few in Ramat Negev. So, while it should be well-guarded, it is the right of the general public in Israel, and even in the world, to be exposed to this unique treasure. The rock drawings are another tourism product of the Har Hanegev region, Ramat HaNegev and Mitzpe Ramon, which only recently decided to set up a joint tourism association, with the understanding that tourism has no municipal boundaries.
“Around these drawings we should develop a curriculum of education and learning that will train young people who, in a few years, will become partners in the research of this unique creation in the region.”
“In addition”, says Rifman “without including the Bedouins who live in the vicinity where the paintings were found, it will be difficult to develop the product. We will include them,” he pledged.
“I am delighted and thrilled to inaugurate this center. The idea is to form a coalition so that all can be involved in financing, for which we intend to recruit additional partners.”
Finally, Rifman said, “I am a man of faith and practice. There is no turning back, only moving forward. The pace depends on the partners. I promise you that together we will promote the project and the unique treasure which has fallen in our lot. We have been entrusted to preserve and develop it.”
The conference was held at Midreshet Ben-Gurion, with about 30 researchers and foreign guests in attendance. During the conference, numerous lectures were given in various fields of knowledge pertaining to rock drawings and rock carvings around the world.
On Saturday, all participants went on an educational tour to get acquainted with the rock drawings in Mount Arkov and the Ovdat area.