Drystone walls are Arabia’s megalithic monuments

The platform during excavation. Source: MADAJ

The recently discovered monumental structures still hold many secrets in their construction, function, and chronology

In contrast to the prehistoric remains in Europe and in the Near East, the megalithic monuments of Arabia are mainly unknown. These monumental structures, made of drystone walls, still hold many secrets in their construction, function, and chronology. An international collaboration of scientists from France, Saudi Arabia and Italy, led by Olivia Munoz, a researcher at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), have discovered a 35 m long triangular platform in the oasis of Dûmat al-Jandal (northern Saudi Arabia). Built in several phases from the 6th millennium BC, this exceptional monument was probably dedicated to ritual practices, some of which were perhaps funerary and commemorative.

To arrive at these conclusions, scientists studied and dated the objects and human remains from deposits found in and around the platform – in the two side niches and also in nearby tombs. The discoveries demonstrate a ritual use during Prehistory and are a potentially symbolic imprint left by nomadic pastoralists in the landscape during this remote period.

Marking the sacral landscape of a north Arabian oasis: a sixth-millennium BC monumental stone platform and surrounding burials, Olivia Munoz, Marianne Cotty, Guillaume Charloux, Charlène Bouchaud, Hervé Monchot, Céline Marquaire, Antoine Zazzo, Rémy Crassard, Olivier Brunet, Vanessa Boschloos, Thamer al-Malki. Antiquity, 9 June 2020. 10.15184/aqy.2020.81

Aerial view of the platform. Source: MADAJ, Marianne Cotty, Olivia Munoz and Ronald Schwerdtner

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(10.12.2020, 12.10.2020)