New aerial images are being studied on mysterious large stone circles in the Middle East that have confounded archaeologists for decades in order to determine how they were built and for what purpose.
The pictures, taken by the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME), show 11 of the ancient structures which are each up to 400m in diameter in the desert of Jordan.
Although relatively unknown, even to academics, similar structures are present in Syria, Saudi Arabia They are known in local folklore as “The Works of the Old Men” but archaeologists have named them “Big Circles”.
Although they were first spotted by British aircraft flying to and from India early last century, there has been little research on the structures which are believed to date back at least 2,000 years. Their actual function is still obscure.
“The circles would not have been hard to build,” said David Kennedy, co-director of APAAME. “They were constructed mainly with local rocks and a dozen people working hard could potentially complete a big circle in a week.”
He explained how the circles could have been designed saying an “ancient architect” might have tied a long rope to a post and walked in a circle, marking the ground. This technique would explain the irregularities in the circles where the land was uneven.
Archaeologists have already ruled out their use as a corral to fence in herds of animals because of their low walls and they would have been useless as defensive structures.