Some Giant Geoglyphs in Jordan are Older than the World Famous Nazca Lines
Despite the difficulty in discerning the finished product of the giant designs from earth, archaeologists have recently announced that at least some of the great “works of old men” (as the Bedouin called them in 1927) of the Middle East are significantly older than the famous Nazca Lines of Peru. They also have shown that one cluster of the wheels may be linked to astronomical knowledge in the past, and some of the geoglyphs were likely related to burials, but the purpose of many of the designs remains uncertain.
Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that at least two of the giant “wheels” from Wadi Al Qattafi and the Wisad Pools, in the Black Desert of Jordan are at least 8,500 years old – making them older then the famous Nazca Lines in Peru by about 6,000 years. Livescience reports that by using optically stimulated luminescence ( OSL), the archaeologists were able to show not only the date of creation of the two wheels, but also that one of them was repaired about 5,500 years ago.
The two “wheels” of the Black Desert that were created 8,500 years ago. ( Google)
The research, soon to be published in the journal Antiquity, demonstrates that at the time of the creation of these two wheels the climate of the Black Desert would have been very different, making life in the area easier. Archaeological evidence for their claim came in the form of "Charcoal from deciduous oak and tamarisk [a shrub that] were recovered from two hearths in one building dated to ca. 6,500 BC."
Furthermore, Discovery News has reported that the recent study suggests that at least some of the geoglyphs are related to an astronomical interest by the ancient inhabitants. Specifically, they have found importance in one group of designs in the Azraq Oasis, as “The majority of the spokes of the wheels in that cluster are oriented for some reason to stretch in a SE-NW direction - where the sun rises during the winter solstice.” This may be no more than an educated “hunch” however, as other geoglyphs in the area do not show apparent “archaeoastronomical information.”
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The two wheels and the cluster make up just a small section of the famous “Works of Old Men” that cross the Arabia region – “from Syria across Jordan and Saudi Arabia to Yemen” according to the researchers from the current study.
The geoglyphs of the Middle East were first spotted in 1927 by RAF Flight Lt. Percy Maitland, while he was flying an airmail route over Jordan. The shapes of the designs vary, and, as it was written by Ancient Origins in 2014:
Some of the wheel-shaped structures are clustered closer together, while others appear to be solitary. Some structures have more of a rectangular shape, while many of them are round. Some of the circular structures contain two spokes that form a bar…The wheels are sometimes found on top of the kites.
A “kite” geoglyph in Jordan. ( Google)
The purpose of the geoglyphs probably varied according to their location and/or design. Gary Rollefson, co-director of the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project, says that “The presence of cairns suggests some association with burials, since that is often the way of treating people once they died.” However, he was also quick to add that “there are other wheels where cairns are entirely lacking, pointing to a different possible use.”
Regarding the construction of the geoglyphs, it is evident that quality also differs from one structure to the next. Speaking of the two wheels in the Black Desert, Rollefson said that they “are simple in form and not very rigidly made, according to geometric standards. They contrast sharply with some other wheels that appear to have been set out with almost as much attention to detail as the Nazca Lines.” The precision of the other wheels, may have been due to the use of a long rope and a stake.
More information on the two wheels of the Black Desert should be forthcoming, as Rollefson told the Jordan Times that he plans to return to “Wadi Al Qattafi in 2016, then back to Wisad in 2017-2019.”
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In contrast to the designs located further north, David Kennedy, co-director of the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME) has said that the forms in Saudi Arabia and Yemen “tend to be small and have only one or two bars instead of spokes. Some of the “wheels” are actually shaped like squares, rectangles or triangles.” The APAAME have also noted kites and interconnecting walls of stones, which he has dubbed as “gates.”
Some of the geoglyphs found in Saudi Arabia. ( Google Earth )
APAAME are currently unable to conduct on-site or aerial imaging research of the “wheels” in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, thus they are studying aerial images from the 20th century and free satellite imaging from Google Earth and Bing for now.
Featured Image: Google Image of some of the “wheel” geoglyphs found in the Azraq Oasis of Jordan.
Source: Google Earth