Mysterious stone structures that appeared in different parts of the world between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age have always been one of the most interesting yet difficult problems to solve by modern archaeology. However, researchers from the JU Institute of Archaeology have taken a significant step to solve that mystery.
A research team working in southern Jordan has carried out an investigation of a dolmen field near Shoubak. Located atop a rocky hill, the spot was probably frequented by nomadic communities travelling around the Arabian Peninsula, where they built the stone structures. It turns out that the dolmens contain some information about their builders. Inside a number of them, archaeologists have found fragments of pottery, flint tools, and even skeletal remains of people who were probably buried there.
‘In one of the dolmens, we’ve found a grave and several items, most likely buried alongside the person. We hope that lab tests will allow us to determine their time of burial, sex, health and ethnicity. Maybe it’ll bring us closer to solving the mystery of the Jordanian megaliths’, said the team’s chief researchers Dr Piotr Kołodziejczyk.
The archaeologists were surprised to find several unfinished dolmens. They were abandoned at different stages of construction, allowing the researchers to deduce how they were built.
‘Thanks to primitive tools probably made of wood and simple techniques involving carving off stone blocks from the ground, lifting them and then supporting them with smaller ones, it was possible to erect these fascinating structures rather quickly. We now need to calculate their weight in order to figure out how many builders it took. The largest of those stone blocks can weigh up to several dozen tonnes’, Dr Piotr Kołodziejczyk added.
The impressive amount of data gathered during the expedition will be used to make a comprehensive analysis of the dolmens. There remains the question of the purpose of the stone structures: they may have been not only burial sites, but also places of worship as well as landmarks. This could be supported by the fact that the JU archaeologists have found remains of a wall surrounding the dolmens as well as several-metre deep well at the very top of the hill.
Until the end of November, researchers plan to analyse two additional sites in southern Jordan. Thanks to information provided to them by local residents, they may find previously undiscovered dolmen fields in the surrounding area.