Mysterious Structures Found in Syrian Desert - Older Than The Pyramids?
By Rossella Lorenzi | LiveScience.com
An ancient landscape of stone circles, alignments and possible tombs lies out in the Syrian Desert, according to a Royal Ontario Museum archaeologist who has dubbed the mysterious structures "Syria’s Stonehenge."
"These enigmatic arrangements are not especially imposing, they are not megaliths or anything like that, but they are very intriguing and clearly deliberately aligned," Robert Mason of Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum told Discovery News.
A corbelled structure (pile of rocks) with an associated circle.
CREDIT: Robert Mason
Uncovered in 2009 near the monastery of Deir Mar Musa (Saint Moses the Abyssinian) some 50 miles north of Damascus, the strange features are likely to remain a desert mystery since the conflict tearing apart the Middle Eastern nation is preventing archaeologists from investigating the site.
Analysis of fragments of stone tools scattered in the area may date the formations to the Neolithic Period or early Bronze Age-- 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.
According to Mason, the stones are arranged to stand out from the empty landscape.
"There is nothing that seems to exhibit evidence of occupation - no houses or occupation at all. This is unusual for the Neolithic in that typically people lived where they buried their dead and worshipped," Mason said.
The rock at the centre of the complex: perhaps a "high place" of some significance to the people at the time.
CREDIT: Robert Mason
"As such it may reflect the development of the concept of a ’land of the dead’ distinct from a ’land of the living’ which has been hypothesised for Neolithic ritual sites in Europe. However it may also reflect a seasonal population that left very limited occupation evidence," he added.
The only building in the area is the monastery, which was built in the late 4th or early 5th century and decorated with 11th and 12th century frescoes depicting Christian scenes and Judgment Day.
According to Mason, the monastery was originally a Roman watchtower that was partially destroyed by an earthquake and then rebuilt.
The archaeologist was looking for lost Roman watchtowers when he stumbled across the strange features.
"The centre of the complex that I found is a natural rock formation that had been the site of quarrying for chert," Mason said.
Built against the quarry face were corbelled constructions about 7 feet across that would have been originally closed over in beehive-like structures.
"These have every appearance of being tombs. Radiating out from this rock were alignments of stones -- nothing big, but deliberately aligned and typically ending in one or more corbelled structure," Mason said.
Archaeologist Robert Mason spoke at the Semitic Museum about the discovery of mysterious rock formations near the Syrian monastery Deir Mar Musa (above), and the need for further exploration.
Credit: Photos by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Read the full article at: livescience.com
Bits of tools Mason found nearby suggest the mystery he discovered in the desert is much older than the monastery. It may date to the Neolithic Period or early Bronze Age, 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Gazette said.
Egypt’s oldest pyramid, the Great Pyramid of Giza, was built about 4,500 years ago.
Mason also saw corral-like stone formations called “desert kites,” which would have been used to trap gazelles and other animals. The desert around the monastery is hardly a verdant pasture -- “very scenic, if you like rocks,” Mason reportedly said -- but was probably greener a few millennia ago, the archaeologist explained.
Like Indiana Jones exploring Italy’s museums in “The Last Crusade,” Mason hopes to return to the monastery to excavate under the church’s main altar -- he believes he’ll find an entrance to underground tombs there.
He also hopes to return to strange stone formations he found in the desert, which he dubbed “Syria’s Stonehenge.”
Also tune into Red Ice Radio:
Nils-Axel Mörner - Hour 1 - Ale’s Stones: The Sun Ship Calendar
Nils-Axel Mörner - Hour 2 - Megalithic Sites in Sweden, Sun & Star Alignments
Christopher Knight & Alan Butler - Civilization One, The Moon & The Megalithic Yard
Freddy Silva - Ancient Sacred Sites, Invisible Temples, Giants & Our Ancestors
John Anthony West & Laird Scranton - Göbekli Tepe
Klaus Schmidt - Göbekli Tepe: The World’s Oldest Temple?
Robert Schoch - Hour 1 - The Mystery of the Sphinx
Robert Schoch - Hour 2 - Forgotten Civilization & Catastrophic Solar Outbursts
Ancient City Found In Syrian Desert, Conflict Delays Further Study
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