An Ancient Graveyard Near The Golden Calf Site
Approximately 4 miles from the location we believe to be the Golden Calf Worship site is a large, ancient, and undeniably pre-Islamic graveyard that is fenced off. It is marked as an archaeological site by the Saudis and a police station is nearby.
If Jabal Maqla is the real Mount Sinai, then this graveyard may be where the 3,000 Golden Calf worshipers were buried after they were killed for their idolatry. It may also be the burial spot where the 20,000 Israelites who died from the plague associated with this event were buried.
The location of the graveyard makes sense within the context of the Exodus story. The graveyard would not be allowed near the holy precinct in front of the mountain, nor would it be within the large plain where the Israelites camped. The graveyard is on the outer edge to the north, just outside the plain and off the path that they would have traveled. It is where one would logically expect it to be.
The graveyard is definitely pre-Islamic because the use of upright headstones is forbidden in Islam. The site appears to be from ancient times, however, no scientific dating has been published thus far. Even so, some researchers believe it is most likely a Bronze Age site due to the style of some of the burials.
This includes the presence of tumuli, cairns, and standing stones - which are typically associated with ancient burial practices found in Arabia and are also noted to be practices some of the early Patriarchs in Genesis engaged in (i.e. standing stones).
Although the Bronze Age is a broad archaeological period, if this is the time period to which these graves belong, the Exodus falls within this timeframe.
Dr. Glen Fritz, in his latest book, The Exodus Mysteries: Of Midian, Sinai, and Jabal al-Lawz, has suggested that if an excavation of this site was ever permitted, Carbon 14 and DNA analysis of the people buried in the graves could help determine a more precise age for the gravesite, as well as who the occupants of the graves were.
In a personal correspondence with Dr. Fritz, we asked if he thought a good methodology for potential DNA analysis would be to compare DNA remnants of the grave occupants at this site in Saudi Arabia with DNA extracted from Semitic graves at Avaris in Egypt (where many of the Israelites resided during the sojourn/enslavement period).
Dr. Fritz replied that our suggestions were "Good thoughts!" (personal communication with Glen Fritz via email).
This would be a way to conclusively determine if these graves do, in fact, belong to the Golden Calf worshippers. This is because it could potentially show a genetic connection between Semitic (Israelite) burials in Egypt, prior to the Exodus, and the people buried at this gravesite in KSA.
Whether or not conducting an official excavation at this site will become possible though is hard to say.
The graveyard is approximately 300-400 yards across, about as big as a football field. Analysis of overhead imagery indicates that the graves are laid out in organized rows of rectangles and squares, and that these graves were probably dug all at the same time.
"The rock distribution pattern and the uniform degree of patina suggests a concentrated period of activity, not a serial accrual over many centuries."
Dr. Glen Fritz, "The Exodus Mysteries: Of Midian, Sinai, and Jabal al-Lawz," page 205
In our view and the view of other researchers, this site fits the description of a mass burial site.
The headstones are a variety of sizes. Jim and Penny Caldwell, an American couple who lived in Saudi Arabia and explored the area in the early 1990's, theorize that the largest headstones may represent a family instead of a single person. Unfortunately, there are holes next to many of the headstones, indicating they have been raided by grave-robbers.
The Saudi government has not publicly addressed the purpose of this site to our knowledge. The team of archaeologists who were commissioned by the Saudi government and published a rebuttal to the Sinai in Arabia theory in 2002 did not mention the graveyard.