Small, circular tombs known as nawamis are a signature feature of the Sinai landscape and are found scattered across the region in both the desert and mountainous areas. It’s thought that early mining settlers in the peninsula built these tombs around 6000 years ago, rendering them the oldest man-made structures in the Sinai. Wherever you find them – almost without exception – they’re built in a similar fashion: on sweeps of high ground with wide, commanding views over the landscape. Their doorways usually face west; no one is sure of the ancient significance of this orientation, but most archaeologists think it had some early religious meaning connected to death and the setting sun.
The word nawamis comes from namoos, Arabic for mosquito. The tombs inherited this name from an old Bedouin legend that Moses and the Israelites originally built the structures during their wanderings in the desert as shelter from a plague of biting insects.
Gazing out over a vast, panoramic sweep of desert surrounding Wadi Rum, the largest group of nawamis in the Sinai consists of 32 tombs clustered together. Just a short distance from this site is the small Bedouin village Nawamis, named after this nearby historical point of interest. The village is accessible by taxi or public minibus and serves as a good halfway point along the Abraham Path’s route through the region.