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A typical corbelled structure ("tomb") (Mason)
A typical corbelled structure ("tomb") (Mason)

Mysterious Structure unveiled in Syrian Desert

(DP-News – Discovery)
SYRIA- An archeological report revealed that an ancient landscape of stone circles, alignments and possible tombs lies out in the Syrian Desert. The report was conducted by 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.

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.

"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 too, 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.

He noticed that those distal tombs were associated with small circles of stones, about  20 feet across.

"Desert kites" -- walls used to corral and trap migrating gazelle - were also present in the area.

"It looked like one of the corbelled structures had been robbed of stone for construction of the kite. This would possibly suggest three phases on the site: quarry, tombs and alignments, and kite," Mason said.

Similar structures have been found near Palmyra and Northern Syria in the desert, but researchers could not find any associated dating evidence.

"The highlands of Western Syria also feature structures like this. However, they were later joined by tombs of the Bronze and Iron Ages, and of the Roman, and so later material obscures any dating evidence for the early structures," Mason said.

According to the archaeologist, more research is required to understand the mysterious stone arrangements.

"I really never had a chance to investigate them fully, and now I am not sure when I ever will," he said.
Visitors Comments          Number of Comments (5)
5
Ancient stone circles of life
Margaret Sharon Olscamp            10/11/2012 1:57:41 AM
I have long been interested in the stone circles found across Europe. God willing, we will soon see peace in that ancient land with so much beauty that the would might learn to appreciate. Peace, Maggie
4
Are ancient solar observatories? Yes
Amelia Carolina Sparavigna            8/15/2012 12:59:16 PM
Some of these stone structures are circular, with radial lines of stones. These circles have been also compared with Stonehenge. Therefore, we can ask ourselves, are these solar observatories too, as Stonehenge is. It seems that there is a good agreement. Therefore, the Syrian stone circles are probably the Stonehenges of Middle East.
3
Satellite images of Syrian Desert
Amelia Carolina Sparavigna            6/28/2012 8:52:41 PM
Huge ancient stone structures can be seen using Google Maps. Circles, "wheels", "desert kites": see them at https://sites.google.com/site/syriandesertsatelliteimagery/ See also the paper http://www.archaeogate.org/vicino_oriente/article/1445/1/stone-structures-in-the-syrian-desert-by-amelia-carolin.html
2
Heartbreaking reality
Rassane            6/28/2012 3:50:56 PM
It's heartbreaking to read that archeological research can't be carried out in Syria because of the fighting going on. I hope that things will calm down soon and that life will go back to normal.
1
a paz
lia Alves batista            6/27/2012 11:57:59 AM
e preciso que haja dialogo,e cheguem ao termino desses conflitos,aonde tem sido ceifadas vidas de inocentes...
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