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View along the length of a mustatil structure, note researchers at far end for scale. The image shows the character of these structures as two platforms connected by low walls.         Source: Huw Groucutt / Max Planck Institute

More Ancient Mysterious Stone Structures Found in Saudi Arabia


The pre-Islamic history of Saudi Arabia has been little researched, and it is only in recent years that archaeologists have begun to investigate the country’s vast deserts. Experts have found over 100 mysterious stone structures that are among the oldest ever found, even older than the pyramids. For example, massive stone structures known as “kites,” probably used in mass animal hunts, have been identified. Moreover, a large number of stone geoglyphs have been found which are known to the local Bedouins as the “works of the old men” reports Ancient Origins. However, a new type of structure, known as a “mustatil,” is still being studied. Together, these newly discovered mysterious stone structures found in the deserts of Saudi Arabia are providing scientists with new insights into life in the ancient world during the transition from pastoral nomadic life to Neolithic society.

Mysterious Structures Found With Satellite Images

The enigmatic mustatil structures were first identified by a team that included specialists from the Max Planck Society in Germany, Saudi experts, and international scholars. They used high-resolution satellite images together with data from Google Earth to locate these structures. The focus of their study was the Nefud Desert in northern Saudi Arabia. To find these mysterious structures, researchers mapped the location of specific features and their proximity to local resources such as water. In total, some 104 mustatils have been found so far.

Location of the primary mustatils found in the northeast of Saudi Arabia (Groucutt et al. / The Holocene)

Location of the primary mustatils found in the northeast of Saudi Arabia (Groucutt et al. / The Holocene)

According to The Holocene, “They are elongated rectangles, with 102 out of 104 examples having two long walls, and the other two having three.” On average these mustatils are 480 feet long and 420 feet wide (161 and 142 m). They were made from thousands of tons of stone and rock, and typically had low platforms. And they were only found in low-lying areas near water resources in the northeastern part of Saudi Arabia.

The Mysterious Mustatils Are Older Than The Pyramids

Little material culture was found during field studies of the mustatil sites. Some items were carbon dated and it was found that at least one dated back 7000 years, making it older than the pyramids. The researchers wrote in The Holocene that “The vast scale of these structures makes them among the most spectacular examples of prehistoric monumental architecture anywhere in the world.”

Researchers tried to figure out why these structures were built. Their conclusions suggest that the mustatils were built in response to climatic and environmental change. The researchers wrote in The Holocene that “Between 10 and six thousand years ago the Arabian Peninsula saw the most recent of the ‘Green Arabia’ periods when increased rainfall transformed this generally arid region.” Therefore, these changes in the local environment likely led to the emergence of the Neolithic period in Arabia when local cultures were radically transformed.

Two of the mustatils found in the Nefud Desert (Groucutt et al. / The Holocene)

Two of the mustatils found in the Nefud Desert (Groucutt et al. / The Holocene)

From A Brown Dry Desert World To A Green Arabia

Before the last Green Arabia period, nomadic pastoralists struggled to survive in the harsh desert-like environment of these areas. More rainfall turned parts of these area into grasslands, but the environment still remained challenging. This led to a reduction in nomadic life and possibly the establishment of territorial entities. The mustatils are probably related to these dramatic societal changes.

Researchers then sought to establish the function of these mysterious constructions in the desert.  The walls are too low for them to be built for defensive purposes and they could not have been used for utilitarian reasons such as water storage. A large number of animal bones were unearthed at these sites. Also uncovered was “a painted rock on the interior aspect of a mustatil” the researchers wrote in The Holocene. The geometric images on this painted rock were the key to interpreting what the mustatils were built for. The researchers concluded that these mysterious stone structures had some symbolic or ritual purpose.

These Mysterious Stone Structures Were Likely Neolithic

Dr Huw Groucutt, one of the study’s lead researchers, stated that “Our interpretation of mustatils is that they were ritual sites, where groups of people met to perform some kind of currently unknown social activities,” according to the Max Planck Institute. The discovery of the painted stone sitting on a platform could suggest that rituals took place at these sites. Groucutt is also quoted by the Max Planck Institute as saying that “Perhaps they were sites of animal sacrifices or feasts.”

Geometric painted pattern found on a block that formed part of the platform of a mustatil. (Groucutt et al. / The Holocene)

Geometric painted pattern found on a block that formed part of the platform of a mustatil. (Groucutt et al. / The Holocene)

Many of the mustatils are built relatively close together which could indicate that they were made by a distinct social group. The structures were likely constructed to promote social cohesion and perhaps to reaffirm group identity. This would indicate that the pastoralists who lived in this part of Arabia lived in complex societies, possibly in response to a better, greener environment.

Mustatils May Have Been Built As A Social Mechanism

However, surviving in these arid environment was still challenging, and the pastoralists faced many dangers. According to the Max Planck Institute, “The team hypothesizes that mustatils were built as a social mechanism to live in this challenging landscape.” They were probably were built to ensure that the ancient people who once lived here cooperated to survive and prosper.

While the mustatil structures are not the oldest in the world, they are the oldest in Arabia and some of the oldest ever recorded. They show how the environment can transform and shape human society. They also demonstrate that structures for ritual and social purposes help groups to come together and survive in harsh landscapes. It is expected that the deserts of Saudi Arabia will reveal more archaeological evidence in the future.

Top image: View along the length of a mustatil structure, note researchers at far end for scale. The image shows the character of these structures as two platforms connected by low walls.         Source: Huw Groucutt / Max Planck Institute

By Ed Whelan



WillowVane's picture

Wow. You are quite the piece of work aren't you? A regular Racist POS that needs to have some Toilet Paper applied before it becomes infected. You are clearly deranged. You think you are the only one who has ever read alternative books than the canonical gospel. You're a mess. You cite the bible as the definitive source, then as soon as that source proves you false, you say the source is wrong. Lol... Delusional to the end. Wow. Just Wow. What a sense of humor my God has to create such simplicity & oblivion in the human mind; so that there is no need for hell fire, when you are already denied the source of Wisdom in this life. Amazing.

David Charles B-Ware-Smedley TPO

Hi There,

I was taught about the 6000 mark in Church but, then, I found out about Lost Books of the Bible; turned out weren't lost, they were banned by the Early Church Father's ranging from Catholic to Protestant. It seems they were afraid of Those Biblical Books.

Happily for me at least I went online and found two of those Banned Bible Books Enoch and Jubilees both Biblical Accounts center on The Genesis Timeline; to the World, Before the Great Flood.

As of right now there are 3 Books of Enoch.
Enoch 1 The Book of The Watchers is in The Ethiopian Orthodox Bible along with Book of Jubilees.

Enoch 2 The Book of The Secrets of Enoch.
Enoch 3 The Book of Giant's the one I think the Church feared most.

Since reading these Book's of Enoch it's caused me to re-think the stories labeled myths the old creed in The Church we live by Faith not by sight well this certainly applies to the myth category those events did happen on Earth.

Enoch the scribe, the prophet establishes Time; at least, in the Ethiopian Bible; which goes further back, than just the usual original belief of 6000 year's. Possibly it might be even longer.

In Jubilees ,what I'm reading is that Time in Heaven is measured differently once I read A.M. followed by Jubilees in The Biblical Account 6000 years no longer applies.

The Book of Jubilees it's free online if anyone wants to read this book, google takes people straight to the book.

Pseudiographia is its heading should be light blue in color.

I believe Cain's Ancestors built those stone structures under the Earth. Bible says that Cain was the first farmer. of course Bible mentions the ground was cursed after, Cain murdered his brother Abel by God.

Cain in a sense was at War with God; so perhaps this structure, under the desert, was his method in fighting, that curse. Somehow whatever Cain did he perfected the Method and in turn taught it to his children and his children's, children.

Cain was able to found and build a City named after, His son Enoch oh right I forgot to mention Bible states there were 2 Enoch's The First Born Son of Cain Enoch was born sometime before Eve Cain's mother had Seth.

The Book's of Enoch is written by Enoch from The lineage of Seth his Father's name was Jared. Jared was 800 years old when Enoch was born and this Enoch never tasted Death Genesis says God took him from Earth in the Biblical Account of Jubilees; the Angel's led Enoch, upon, the instructions from God to the Heavenly Eden which was prior before The Flood.

this is why the Mustatils and the Cain angle dwelling in Nod makes a little more sense. I did think it had to be Abraham/Job's Time on Earth, originally, but I keep being pulled to The Pre-Flood Era. In the Church with Bible Study, if you're getting pulled so many times back to a specific topic in The Bible, then it's time to stop and pay attention.

Wait for that revolving door to reveal itself and I noticed since studying Enoch/Jubilees I've had to do both.

Goodbye thank you for talking too me!

WillowVane's picture

I'm sorry to have to inform you, but at most the biblical Timeline only goes back 6000 years, placing your mythology at approximately 4000 years BCE.

David Charles B-Ware-Smedley TPO

Hi there,

Its possible that the Mustatils might have been built by Cain's Ancestors.

Genesis said after Cain murdered his brother Abel, resulting in God exiling him from Adam and Eve, He dwelt in a Land that's known as Nod.

This event occurs in The Bible; only after Cain has wandered around as a vagabond in exile.

Perhaps what we now know today as Saudi Arabia was once Nod.

The Four Rivers that are mentioned in Genesis that went through,Eden, two of them were The Euphrates and the Tigres, it has to be in relation away from those two specific River's.

Only Cain's parents were allowed to the entrance of the Gate to make sacrifices in the worship of God.

Then later Seth continued on with the tradition who Eve said replaced Abel murdered by Cain. That's why I believe Cain's Ancestors built those underground structures in Saudi Arabia.

WillowVane's picture

Once again you are mistaken, as well as being disrespectful & spreading racist propaganda which has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
Nevertheless I will address your unfounded claims... There were in point of fact, exactly Three cherokee citizens of the Nazi Racist Group, who organized the unlawful assault on Ms Warren & perpetrated a Fraud by gathering a few hundred like minded Individuals of unknown Heritage from across the United States & Canada to sign their petition & this was then submitted fraudulently as from the entire Cherokee Nation of which my Choctaw is a member. Ms Warren made matters worse by actually issuing a Response to the combined Cherokee Nations, as if these were the official voice. Three Individuals do not Represent the Entirety of the Cherokee Nation; let alone the Entirety of the over 500+ federally recognized "Tribes" of the United States alone.
Unless you have an actual point relating to the Subject at Hand; I will thank you to stop harassing me with your Racist Comments.

David Charles B-Ware-Smedley TPO


Ed Whelan's picture


My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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