Peru’s Nazca Lines, the mysterious geoglyphs etched into the desert centuries ago by indigenous groups, are world famous – and now thousands of similar patterns have been found in the Middle East.
Satellite and aerial photography has revealed mysterious stone ‘wheels’ that are more numerous and older than the Nazca Lines in countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
The structures are thought to date back 2,000 years, but why they were built is baffling archaeologists and historians.
‘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,’ David Kennedy, a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Western Australia, told Live Science.
I walked over them, walked past them, for centuries, millennia, without having any clear idea what the shape was.’
The local Bedouin, a nomadic people found in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Egypt and Israel, call them the ‘works of the old men’.
They are often found on lava fields – but don’t fall into any pattern, according to Kennedy, whose research into them will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal Of Archaeological Science.
He explains that they come in a huge variety of forms, some being ‘kites’, structures that funnelled animals, some being seemingly random meandering lines of stone and others being rectangular.
None are believed to be aligned with the stars, which has added to the mystery surrounding their purpose.
They were actually first discovered in 1927 by an RAF pilot called Lt. Percy Maitland, but it wasn’t until Professor Kennedy and his team began studying aerial and Google Earth photographs that their true extent was revealed.
A final count has yet to be completed, but Kennedy is certain they run into the thousands.