8,000-Year-Old Architectural Plans Discovered in Jordan and Saudi Arabia

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saudi arabia, jordan, desert kites, middle east archeology, jibal al-khashabiyeh, jebel az-zilliyat, ancient desert traps, oldest constructions, how did ancient people performed constructions

saudi arabia, jordan, desert kites, middle east archeology, jibal al-khashabiyeh, jebel az-zilliyat, ancient desert traps, oldest constructions, how did ancient people performed constructions

European and Arab archaeologists have discovered two ancient architectural plans in Jordan and Saudi Arabia that were drawn on rocks by ancient inhabitants of the Middle East between 8,000 and 9,000 years-ago.

A team of Arab and European archaeologists led by Rémy Crassard, a leading researcher at the University of Lyon, have discovered what is believed to be one of the oldest examples of construction plans by a highly-developed civilization.

“However, while human constructions have modified natural spaces and their surroundings for many millennia, few plans or maps of such human-made structures predate the protohistoric period of the literate civilizations of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt,” officials wrote in there findings.

Officials detailed in their study the “exceptional discovery of the up-to-now oldest realistic plans, engraved on stones, of some of these human-made archaeological mega-traps, from south-eastern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia, the oldest of which are dated to 9,000 years ago.”

Researchers made the discovery while examining several ancient “desert kites,” giant trap-like enclosures built by hunter-gatherer tribes in the Stone Age to capture and slaughter large numbers of antelope and other animals that migrate or move in large herds.

A large number of such structures have been found by archaeologists in recent decades in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Crassard and his colleagues recently began investigating several such animal enclosures that were erected in the vicinity of the Jibal al-Khashabiyeh ancient settlement in southeastern Jordan, and Jebel az-Zilliyat in northern Saudi Arabia.

Both of these sites have attracted the attention of archaeologists because of the anthropomorphic stelae and other decorations found in their area, indicating a high level of cultural development of the inhabitants of these settlements.

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When scientists studied the vicinity of these ancient sites, they found two monoliths next to the desert kite, with highly unusual rock art depicting sets of lines on them. When the scientists studied their shape and compared them with photographs of the traps, Crassard and his colleagues found that both images were exact architectural plans of these structures.

Archaeologists have stated these drawings helped ancient builders avoid mistakes in the construction of “desert kites,” whose large size did not allow the eye to fully grasp the entire trap structure. Given the age of these stelae, it suggests architectural art and the abstract thinking abilities required for it appeared much earlier than scientists had assumed in the past, Crassard and his colleagues summarized.

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According to anthropologists’ current understanding, our ancestors started to master various forms of art as well as to invent the basics of abstract thinking about 40,000 years ago. More complex forms of abstract art, meanwhile, presumably emerged after the dawn of civilization, during the formation of Ancient Egypt and the first city-states of Mesopotamia.

The findings were published in the journal PLoS One.





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