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The prehistoric megalith Rujm el-Hiri.

Wheel of Giants: Prehistoric Rujm el-Hiri Puzzles Archaeologists


Sitting in plain sight but unnoticed for centuries, Rujm el-Hiri - an unusual megalith near the Sea of Galilee - has stumped experts. An ancient monument comprised of enormous stone circles dating to the Early Bronze Age remains a mystery to this day. No one knows who created the stone rings in the form of a wheel, nor why.

Livestock grazing nearby reveals scale of enormous stone rings on the plains of the Golan Heights.

Livestock grazing nearby reveals scale of enormous stone rings on the plains of the Golan Heights. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pattern Within Giant Stone Circles Revealed From the Air

The impressive ancient ruins, located in the Golan Heights (a contested region claimed by both Israel and Syria) are a wheel-like design of enormous piled rocks—an estimated 40,000 tons of black basalt—stacked into at least five concentric rings, with a central burial cairn at its center, according to news website Haaretz.

Red marks indicate location of Rujm el-Hiri, "stone heap of the wild cat".

Red marks indicate location of Rujm el-Hiri, "stone heap of the wild cat". (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In Arabic it is called Rujm el-Hiri, meaning the "stone heap of the wild cat”. In Hebrew it is named Gilgal Refaim, or the “wheel of giants”. The reference to a race of giants in the Bible, the Rephaites, alludes to only one of the many theories as to who built the complex monument, or the purposes behind it. Considering the great size of Rujm el-Hiri, it’s no wonder it might be considered the work of giant beings.

Referred to as “Stonehenge of the Levant”, it is estimated to be approximately 5,000 years old. Dated to the Early Bronze Age II period (3000 to 2700 BC), it is believed contemporary with the prehistoric Stonehenge monument in the UK.

According to Reuters, at ground level it appears to be heaps of crumbling stone walls. Hundreds of dolmens, or rock formations, are scattered across the expansive field at the site, and so it was only the aerial archaeological surveys in the late 1960’s that finally allowed the whole of the pattern to be revealed from the air, which was unrecognized from the ground—that of a massive bull’s-eye.

Now drones are also used to demonstrate the impressiveness of the megalith. There are also talks of building a 20-meter-high (65.62-ft.-high) observation tower or to set up a hot air balloon at the site to make it more attractive to tourists.

A view of the site at ground level.

A view of the site at ground level. (Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Excavations found it to be one of the biggest and oldest structures in the region.

No Bodies to be Found at the Large Burial Site

Between five and nine massive circular rings surround a central burial chamber, the largest ring measuring more than 500 feet (152 meters) wide, and reaching three to eight feet (one to 2.5 meters) high, reports About Education . The rings are not all complete, and some of them are connected with short walls, making ‘spokes’ in the giant wheel. The walls were formed in a consistent thickness, between 10.5 and 10.8 feet (3.2 and 3.3 meters).

There is debate as to whether the burial cairn at the center of this prehistoric megalith was made at the time original creation of the rings. The central heap of stone is approximately 15 to 16 feet (five meters) high, and 65 to 80 (20 to 25 meters) feet in diameter.

Precious few artifacts have been uncovered at Rujm el-Hiri due to its age and an unfortunate history of looting at the site. A single Chalcolithic pin was seemingly dropped by looters at the site.

It is thought the central cairn may have once held jewelry and weapons. Excavations of walled chambers did not find any artifacts, indicating the spaces were not used for storage or living spaces. No radiocarbon dating timelines could be established as no prehistoric organic material was ever recovered from the site.

The dark entrance to the burial chamber found at the center of the megalithic site.

The dark entrance to the burial chamber found at the center of the megalithic site. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Trying to Explain the Prehistoric Mystery

Uri Berger, an expert on megalithic tombs with the Israel Antiquities Authority said, “It's an enigmatic site. We have bits of information, but not the whole picture. Scientists come and are amazed by the site and think up their own theories.”

View inside the burial chamber.

View inside the burial chamber. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Archaeologists believe the site was not used as dwellings or a defensive structure, but other than that there’s no consensus on its function. No other structure like it has been found in the Near East.

One theory explaining the purpose of the site is that of an astrological calendar. On the June and December solstices the sunrise aligns with openings on the rocks, says Uri Berger. Some researchers believe the site was used as a place of ritual astrological observance or sun worship until the central burial site was installed, blocking the sun’s rays on the special days.

Although a tomb is located at the center of the wheel, no human remains have ever been found within Rujm el-Hiri. According to Popular Archaeology, Dr. Rami Arav, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, proposes that this may be because the funerals involved “excarnation” or the de-fleshing of bones by birds and wildlife. The remains would later be collected by local inhabitants and placed in bone boxes.

Further complicating the issue of who built Rujm el-Hiri is the obvious construction work involved. It’s estimated to have required more than 25,000 working days to build up the massive monument. That, combined with the collection and transportation of stone, seems to have required an enormous support network that a nomadic civilization or itinerants may not have had, notes Reuters.

Explanations for one of the region’s most unique and puzzling sites continues to elude archaeologists.

Top Image: The prehistoric megalith Rujm el-Hiri.  Source: CC BY-SA 2.0

By: Liz Leafloor



Hello Everyone,

I have a question why are so many people afraid of the Idea behind the Giant's existence?

Other than believing in God and reading Studying The Bible; it never occurred to me that Giants walked the Earth and that they were a global phenomena.

I think people's resistance to the possibility of giants living long ago is because they're the ultimate monsters in the closet or under your bed.

I was in my teen years I learned of the existence of an specific Bible Book and the name of this Biblical Text was Enoch (I came to learn it has a Brother Book Jubilees), found out about it from Mysteries of The Bible produced by cable network A&E also another program that examined Books of The Bible Banned Books of The Bible I & II produced by The History Channel.

What was described in this Sacred Text was unholy Angels, Unholy unions between Angels and Human Women that resulted in a Hybrid-Race of Beings called Nephilims & Rephalims and that they were Giant's.

Rather off-handly, I dismissed The significance of the Book; and thought that they were incorporating mythical stories with this Bible Book.

I learned originally that Enoch had been in The Bible; the Church father's both Catholic and Protestant, took it upon themselves, to remove it from The Scriptures deciding that This Book was not Biblically Inspired.

I don't share that view too me Enoch is just as Inspired this includes it's Brother Book Jubilees and for me is a primary example of Man seeking to put Limits on God in what He can and Can not Do Barriers they're placing Barriers on The Heavenly Father.

That being said after reading Enoch for myself I can no longer be as dismissive as I was when I did learn about the Myth's of the World I feel since reading Enoch that my Eye's are open and the subjects and topics addressed in those Oral Stories are true.

To me the stone structure The Wheel of the Giant's is proof these guys walked the Earth. They're the ones who built those structures including Stonehenge.

I suspect from what I understood of Enoch and Jubilees that God may not want those bodies found so we're left with monuments as proof of their existence. Remember that statue it's suppose to be the hand of Hercules but, it's missing two other fingers?

I think that hand was modelled after King Shion & or King Og of the Rephalims by the way Nephilims mean the fallen ones and Rephalims ( you'll love this concept means in Hebrew The Walking Dead), I believe that Og is where the word Ogre comes from I think the Giant's were identified as Clans and Tribe's of the Race of Giant's.

And I got all of that conclusion from reading Enoch.

So I say yes The Wheel was built by Giant's in Gilgal. Oh one more thing King Og was King of Bashan today present day Syria.

I heard of the biography of the famous traveling Western Show headed by Wild Bill that in his youth he and a small expedition explored some areas in the West. This small band of people included a Surgeon.

While lingering in an specific area Wild Bill and the others were approached by The Pawnees they had in their possession some very, very large bones. The surgeon examined the bones and identified them as Human it was quite an astonishing discovery.

The Pawnees told Wild Bill that once a Race of Giant's lived in that area where they were exploring that they were strong and were extremely fast runners why is that important because those giants could run and pick up a buffalo under their arms and ripped a leg off of that buffalo off they grabbed and eat that buffalo leg.

Think about that for a second The American Buffalo is how big? and those Race of Giant's were capable of that just how big were those Giant's that they could pick up a buffalo hold it under there arm and rip off its legs to eat it?

Those aren't the only giant stories of the Indigenous Tribes here in the Americas before Columbus, Cortez & Pizzaro in Peru with The Incans.

All of the Nation's Speak of these Race of Giant's who lived in Caves and interestingly all the stories consisted of the fact these Giant's were White with Red Hair and Six Fingers with two double rows of teeth.

So now I believe the Giant's lived Long ago but we still have reminants of their existence throughout the globe.

This definitely something to think about that our ancestors lived side by side with these monsters and that's a fact. So until next time Everybody this is where I leave the discussion and say my Goodbye!

Susan Peowrie's picture

Shaped just like the myth of Atlantis...

Ba'al translates to "God".

While touring Gilgal Refaim in Bashan, a region where Ba'al was worshiped during unholy rituals, please heed the prophecy:
"When the blood of an unblemished lamb is spilled once again upon the altar of Bashan, look to the morning star for the return of Ha-Satan."

jpopplewell's picture

How do you stone Christians thousands of years before the birth of Christ?



Liz Leafloor is former Art Director for Ancient Origins Magazine. She has a background as an Editor, Writer, and Graphic Designer. Having worked in news and online media for years, Liz covers exciting and interesting topics like ancient myth, history,... Read More

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