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The mystery of 7,000-year-old stone structures discovered in Saudi Arabia

The mystery of 7,000-year-old stone structures discovered in Saudi Arabia 86

In the north of the Arabian Peninsula, on the border with the Nefud Desert, archaeologists have recently uncovered huge stone monuments that are 7,000 years old. 

The mustatil structures, shaped like long rectangles, are a mystery, but new evidence suggests that they may have been used for ritual or social purposes.

The Mustatils are among the earliest forms of large-scale stone structures, thousands of years prior to the pyramids of Giza. 

Hundreds of these structures have been identified, and archaeologists believe they are in some way related to an increase in territoriality as the once lush region gave way to an arid desert.

The discovery of the Mustatils was first documented in 2017 using satellite photography that showed the scale and number of these mysterious structures in the Harrat Khaybar desert lava field in Saudi Arabia.

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Called “gates” for their appearance from the air, they have been described as “two short, thick lines of a pile of stones, roughly parallel, connected by two or more, much longer and thinner walls.”

Now a similar study has been carried out by a group of archaeologists led by Hugh Grokatt of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany. By studying satellite images of the southern edge of the Nefud Desert, they found 104 new mustatila. Then they drove to the site and studied them carefully.

Like the mustatils of Harrat Khaybar, the mustatils of the Nefud Desert consist of two short, thick platforms connected by low walls of much greater length, reaching over 600 meters, but never exceeding half a meter.

Similar construction methods can be seen in several mustatils: vertical stones were placed vertically in the ground to form the basic shape of the wall, and stones were stacked to fill the gap between them. Charcoal was discovered in one structure, dated back to 7,000 years ago.

It was an interesting time in the history of the region. It falls into the African humid period, which began about 14,600-14,500 years ago and ended about 6,000-5,000 years ago.

At that time, the Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula received much more rainfall than they do today, and they were much greener and more lush.

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But on the Arabian Peninsula, this period did not last long. Recent research indicates that the grasslands reached their peak of expansion around 8,000 years ago, after which the area dried up very quickly.

What the mustatils were actually used for and why there are so many of them is difficult to say. But the researchers believe that increased competition for resources and territory after aridity may have played a role.

Careful examination revealed that there were no holes in the long walls of the buildings, and there was a curious lack of archaeological artifacts such as stone tools in and around them. The researchers believe this suggests that the mustatils were unlikely to be utilitarian, used to store water or feed livestock, for example.

Their searches have uncovered accumulations of animal bones, including those of wild animals and cattle or bison, although it is unclear if the latter were wild or domesticated. And one stone was found with a geometric pattern. He was on the surface of the end platform inside one of the mustatils, and anyone who stood inside could see him.

“Our interpretation of the mustatils is that they are ritual places where groups of people gather to perform some currently unknown social action,” said Grokatt. “Perhaps these were places of animal sacrifices or feasts.”

Another possibility is suggested by the proximity of some structures. Perhaps, the researchers suggest, the goal was the act of building them – a linking activity to enhance community collaboration skills.

“The lack of obvious utilitarian functions of the mustatils suggests a ritual interpretation. In fact, the mustatils appear to represent one of the earliest known examples of large-scale ritual behavior encoded in the practice of monumental construction and use. “

“Our results indicate that the Mustatils, and especially their platforms, are important archives of the Arab prehistoric era, and their further research and excavation is likely to be very useful and lead to a better understanding of social and cultural events.”

Simply and in short – “We found ancient structures about the purpose of which we have no idea.”

Ancient

Archaeologists have discovered “unknown” constellations in an Egyptian temple

Archaeologists have discovered "unknown" constellations in an Egyptian temple 99
Previously unknown ancient Egyptian constellations found © Live Science

A team of scientists from Germany and Egypt, which carried out work in the ancient temple of Esna, found references to previously unknown ancient Egyptian constellations, but so far they cannot link them to existing ones.

In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered images of unknown constellations during the restoration of an ancient temple. This is reported by LiveScience.

Restoration work is being carried out in the 2,000-year-old temple by experts from Germany and Egypt. During the removal of soot and dust from the walls, drawings began to appear, with which the ancient Egyptians decorated the temple.

“The carvings and hieroglyphs look so vivid as if they were drawn yesterday. But we are not repainting anything, we are just removing the soot,” Christian Leitz says, professor of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen.

During the restoration, researchers cleaned up ancient carved scenes depicting constellations, including the Big Dipper and Orion. Scientists have also found previously unknown constellations, including a constellation called “Apedu n Ra” or “Geese of Ra”, which are the ancient Egyptian sun gods.

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Mentioning these constellations, without depicting them, does not yet allow us to say which star clusters are in question.

The first modern description of a Greco-Roman temple in the city of Esna dates back to 1589, when it was visited by a Venetian merchant. The city of Esna, about 60 km south of the ancient capital of Luxor, used to have more temples. Two buildings were destroyed during the industrialization of Egypt, and the largest, the Temple of Esna, was used for storing cotton in the first half of the 19th century.

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The sanctuary, which they decided to use as a warehouse, was prized for its location in the city center. Decades of desolation have left the temple dirty, covered in soot and bird droppings.

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To date, only its vestibule remains from the temple. The large sandstone structure is supported by 24 columns, as well as 18 freestanding columns, decorated with paintings and carvings. It stretches 37 meters long, 20 meters wide and 15 meters high. But the remains of the temple are only a small fraction of its former size when it was built under the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned 41-54 AD). Scholars do not know what happened to the rest of the temple when a Venetian merchant visited it in the 16th century, little remained of the structure.

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According to Leitz, the construction and decoration of the temple, including the astronomical drawings on the ceiling, could take about 200 years.

He notes that when the ancient Egyptians decorated the temple, they first drew with ink, creating sketches for carvers, and then colored the relief designs.

On the astronomical ceiling of the temple, many drawings have remained in ink, so they were found only during the restoration.

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Ancient

A portrait of an alien? In Bulgaria, archaeologists have found a clay mask of an unusual shape

A portrait of an alien? In Bulgaria, archaeologists have found a clay mask of an unusual shape 104
Ancient mask resembles an alien (Photo: Bulgarian National Radio)

A prehistoric clay mask or figurine without a mouth dating back to the 5th millennium BC was found in the prehistoric settlement of Salt Pit in northeastern Bulgaria.

A whimsical mask or figurine without a mouth combines human and animal features and resembles an ” alien” from a science fiction movie, archaeologists are sure.

“ Many people compare him to … an alien in a space suit,” the Bulgarian National Radio said in a statement about the discovery.

A late Eneolithic mask was found on the Provadia-Solnitsata mound in northeastern Bulgaria, its shape is close to triangular. The front side protrudes forward and contains an image of a supposedly human face, while the back side is dented and rough in shape.

According to archaeologists, each of the two corners of the upper side of the prehistoric mask or figurine has a short protrusion, “probably stylized ears.” The figurine’s ears have small holes that were used to carry or hang the artifact.

“The artifact was most likely a status symbol hanging on a person’s chest. Interestingly, there is even a hint of mouth on the artifact. But the emphasis is on the eyes – their shape, size, and the vertical polished stripes underneath say much more,” the researchers said.

The head of the archaeological team, Professor Vasil Nikolov, told Bulgarian National Radio that there is no way to know for sure what exactly the 6,000-year-old clay mask or figurine might have been used for by prehistoric people.

Judging by the two holes in the stylized ears of the mouthless mask, it could be hanging on the wall or even being a potter’s vessel lid that could be raised or lowered with a string. According to him, the image on the mask of an ” alien” is a mixture of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic features and “is strongly associated with the masculine principle.”

Two furnaces from the Early Eneolithic ( Copper Age) were excavated at the mound of the Bazovets settlement in North-Eastern Bulgaria.

One of two prehistoric kilns dating back about 7,000 years, was first partially excavated in the 2019 archaeological season. However, during the last excavations of the Bazovets mound, it was completely exposed, and a second kiln from the same structure was discovered.

During the last excavations of the mound of the Bazovetsky settlement, 57 archaeological artifacts were discovered. These include items made of flint, animal bones, horns, and ceramics, including fragments of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines.

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Ancient

Staffa – “Island of columns”, which according to the legends of the Vikings was built by giants

Staffa - "Island of columns", which according to the legends of the Vikings was built by giants 105

Some places on our planet are so amazing that legends have been made about them for millennia. According to one of the legends, earlier on Earth there was a race of giants, which I love to talk about in my articles. It may be rather strange, but there is plenty of evidence that giants are not just a beautiful fairy tale, but could actually live on Earth.

Interestingly, according to some scientists, gigantism in the past was characteristic not only of living things, but also of plants, insects and people. The reason for this could be a different composition of the planet’s atmosphere, in which a small size meant a small chance of survival.

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Some of the ancient buildings are so majestic that people definitely could not build them, and there are traces of such ancient buildings in many countries. Huge stone blocks weighing several tons, which people could hardly lift, because they did not possess the technologies of our time. But there are wonders of the world, which are difficult to understand, and one of them is the “Island of Columns”. Either nature skillfully did its job, or the giants of antiquity could build this miracle, but about everything in order.

Fingal’s Cave is located on the Scottish island of Staffa. The height of the ancient temple is about 20 meters, and the width is only about 14. People who have fallen into the cave note that it is like an ancient temple built using amazing technology. This place is often called the melody cave, because you can hear amazing sounds of nature in it, as if the natural philharmonic society invited you to its free concert.

The mystery lies in the basalt columns, which look so amazing that you start to doubt the natural formation of these columns, maybe that’s why legends about giants appeared, that people do not believe that the columns could have appeared naturally? But let’s return to the legend, in which we are told about the amazing giant Fingal, who lay down to rest before his next fight. Up to this point, he has erected a unique king between Ireland and Scotland, in which there were thousands of such columns.

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The giant’s rival came to a duel to the cave, and the war was met by Fingal’s wife, who pointed to her husband wrapped in blankets and said that this was their baby. The words of the giant’s wife frightened the other giant so much that he imagined his rival, whose height could exceed his height several times. Then he decided to escape from the place of the battle, destroying the dam behind him so that Fingal would not catch up with him.

Fingal’s Cave gained fame after the famous scientist Joseph Banks visited the small island in the 17th century. After his rave reviews, this place was visited by many famous people, and Felix Mendelssohn even dedicated his overture to the unusual musical grotto.

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There is no direct connection between this piece of land and Scotland. First, tourists take a ferry to the Isle of Mull, and from there they follow boats to Staffa Island.

Here is such a beautiful fairy tale in which the wife of a giant cunningly did not let her husband fight.

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