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The Big Circles of Jordan

The Big Circles are a collection of 12 giant circular stone structures spread across parts of Jordan and Syria. Despite they being over 2,000 years old, very little archaeological attention has been given to them and they remain largely unknown, even among local experts.

The circles were discovered in 1920 by a British pilot named Lionel Rees when he flew across the deserts of what would become Jordan. The pictures Rees took of these immense stone circles became some of the earliest aerial archaeological photographs of these structures. For reasons unknown, Rees findings were ignored and promptly forgotten. It took another 60 years before anyone noticed them again. It was only in the last 10 years, they have started to gain more attention through the work of David Kennedy, a researcher at the University of Western Australia.

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

The Big Circles are built of low stone walls that are no more than a few feet high. They are nearly circular, ranging from 720 feet to over 1,200 feet across. The circles originally contained no openings, although over the centuries some of the walls have crumbled. Two of the circles have Roman roads cutting across them, indicating they are over 2,000 years old, but they could be much older.

The circles would not have been hard to build, according to David Kennedy, and could be constructed from local rocks, and a dozen people working hard in a week. But why they were built is a mystery. It seems unlikely that the circles were used as cattle pens, as the walls are too low to keep the animals within. Besides, there is no reason for animal pens to have a precise shape.

Out of the 12 circles, eight are in west central Jordan, between Wadi el-Hasa and the edge of Shara escarpment, and four just north of Azraq Oasis. A more recent Big Circle was spotted in Syria.

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

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Photo credit: Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Sources: Live Science / Smithsonian / Archeology.com

2 comments:

  1. Metric measurements too (parenthentically). Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that a request or a demand?

      Delete

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