Visible Only From Above, Mystifying 'Nazca Lines' Discovered in
Source - http://www.livescience.com/16046-nazca-lines-wheels-google-earth.html
They stretch from Syria to Saudi Arabia, can be seen from the air but not the ground, and are virtually unknown to the public.
Credit: Stafford Smith - The Harrat ash-Sham lava field
stretches from Syria to Saudi Arabia and contains thousands of wheels. Here,
drawings reveal the various shapes these structures can take.
They are the Middle East's own version of the Nazca Lines — ancient "geolyphs," or drawings, that span deserts in southern Peru — and now, thanks to new satellite-mapping technologies, and an aerial photography program in Jordan, researchers are discovering more of them than ever before. They number well into the thousands.
Referred to by archaeologists as "wheels," these stone structures have a wide variety of designs, with a common one being a circle with spokes radiating inside. Researchers believe that they date back to antiquity. They are often found on lava fields and range from 82 feet to 230 feet (25 meters to 70 meters) across.
Credit: David L. Kennedy APAAME_20080925_DLK-0308The area near
the Azraq Oasis in Jordan has hundreds of wheels, large structures made of stone. (Unless otherwise noted, all the
photographs in this album are taken from the air, as one can't make out the
structures from flat ground.)
"In Jordan alone we've got stone-built structures that are far more numerous than (the) Nazca Lines, far more extensive in the area that they cover, and far older," said David Kennedy, a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Western Australia.
Credit: Robert H. Bewley APAAME_20090928_RHB-0120 - These stone
structures have a wide variety of designs, with a common one being a circle with
spokes radiating inside. This wheel in Jordan looks like it has four dots within
Kennedy's new research, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, reveals that these wheels form part of a variety of stone landscapes. These include kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals); pendants (lines of stone cairns that run from burials); and walls, mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet and have no apparent practical use.
His team's studies are part of a long-term aerial reconnaissance project that is looking at archaeological sites across Jordan. As of now, Kennedy and his colleagues are puzzled as to what the structures may have been used for or what meaning they held.
Kennedy's main area of expertise is in Roman archaeology, but he became fascinated by these structures when, as a student, he read accounts of Royal Air Force pilots flying over them in the 1920s on airmail routes across Jordan. "You can't not be fascinated by these things," Kennedy said.
Indeed, in 1927 RAF Flight Lt. Percy Maitland published an account of the ruins in the journal Antiquity. He reported encountering them over "lava country" and said that they, along with the other stone structures, are known to the Bedouin as the "works of the old men."
Kennedy and his team have been studying the structures using aerial photography and Google Earth, as the wheels are hard to pick up from the ground, Kennedy said.
Credit: David L. Kennedy. APAAME_20081102_DLK-0061-1In this
photo the helicopter carrying the team descends toward the ground near two
wheels. Even from reduced elevation the wheels are still visible.
"Sometimes when you're actually there on the site you can make out something of a pattern but not very easily," he said. "Whereas if you go up just a hundred feet or so it, for me, comes sharply into focus what the shape is."
The designs must have been clearer when they were originally built. "People have probably walked over them, walked past them, for centuries, millennia, without having any clear idea what the shape was."
What were they used for?
So far, none of the wheels appears to have been excavated, something that makes dating them, and finding out their purpose, more difficult. Archaeologists studying them in the pre-Google Earth era speculated that they could be the remains of houses or cemeteries. Kennedy said that neither of these explanations seems to work out well.
"There seems to be some overarching cultural continuum in this area in which people felt there was a need to build structures that were circular."
Some of the wheels are found in isolation while others are clustered together. At one location, near the Azraq Oasis, hundreds of them can be found clustered into a dozen groups. "Some of these collections around Azraq are really quite remarkable," Kennedy said.
In Saudi Arabia, Kennedy's team has found wheel styles that are quite different: Some are rectangular and are not wheels at all; others are circular but contain two spokes forming a bar often aligned in the same direction that the sun rises and sets in the Middle East.
The ones in Jordan and Syria, on the other hand, have numerous spokes and do not seem to be aligned with any astronomical phenomena. "On looking at large numbers of these, over a number of years, I wasn't struck by any pattern in the way in which the spokes were laid out," Kennedy said.
Cairns are often found associated with the wheels. Sometimes they circle the perimeter of the wheel, other times they are in among the spokes. In Saudi Arabia some of the cairns look, from the air, like they are associated with ancient burials.
Cairns, or piles of stones, are often found associated with the wheels, sometimes circling
the perimeter and other times in among the spokes. Here, the wheel to the south
has a ring of such cairns around it.
Dating the wheels is difficult, since they appear to be prehistoric, but could date to as recently as 2,000 years ago. The researchers have noted that the wheels are often found on top of kites, which date as far back as 9,000 years, but never vice versa. "That suggests that wheels are more recent than the kites," Kennedy said.
- I guess we should try to see things as they are. Holmes would deduce that
these structures are buildings. Villages, made by the Flower People, here and
Circular houses that men built in the past, with 4 or 5 rooms, often placed one next to the other. The fact that they do no share straight lines, says that their purpose
was not an astronomical one, or connected to stars, time and symbolic meanings. These houses were spontaneus settlements made by the "Flower people" that lived there.
I hove found more than 5000 of them in two different continents, and believe
that they were really built by the "old men". As hundreds of them can be found clustered
groups, it is clear that these people gathered together in small communities. Their structures have nothing to do with Nazca lines, which depict animals, insects, birds, and
show straight lines that never seem to appear in this culture, though we could consider them geogliphs, in the sense that from an archaeoastronomical point of view, we are able
to see them clearly from the sky. As no one seems to be interested in digging, or finding an answer, I suppose that these ruins are certainly much older that 9000 years, and
the topic an off limits one. As they cerainly belong to pre history, the fact that they are similar to houses in use 200.000 years ago, which we can find near Egoli in South Africa,
were gold miners used to live, I am starting to think that someone is hiding the explanation away, in order to protect the gold mines they own forgetting on purpose the Sumerian
connection they have with Outsiders and their needs.