Monument older than Pyramids found in Galilee
The massive stone structure, believed to date back 5,000 years, is lunar-crescent-shaped
A massive lunar-crescent-shaped stone monument believed to predate the Pyramids and Stonehenge has been identified near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
Pottery excavated around the 150-meter-long, seven-meter-tall structure, indicates the monument dates to between 3050 BC and 2650 BC, meaning about 5,000 years ago, according to a report on the Science Live news site, also reported by The Times of Israel.
Archeologists previously thought the structure was part of a city wall, but recent work by Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, indicates there was no city there and it was too far from the nearest town to have been a fortification.
“The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources by a local rural or pastoral population,” Wachtel wrote in the summary of a presentation given recently at the International Congress on the Archeology of the Ancient Near East.
The structure’s crescent shape stood out in the landscape, Wachtel told Live Science. The shape may have had symbolic importance, as the lunar crescent is a symbol of an ancient Mesopotamian moon god named Sin, Wachtel said.
An ancient town called Bet Yerah (Hebrew for “house of the moon”) is located only a day’s walk from the crescent-shaped monument, Wachtel noted. As such, the monument may have helped mark the town’s borders.
Bet Yerah was a large town with a grid plan and fortification system, according to a study detailed in 2012 in the Journal of Near Eastern Archeology. Its inhabitants traded with the early kings of Egypt, as seen from several artifacts, including a jug with a hieroglyphic inscription.
Other large rock structures have been found in the vicinity. One, called Rujum el-Hiri, is in the Golan Heights (an area to the east of the Sea of Galilee). Recent research by Mike Freikman, also an archeologist with the Hebrew University, suggests it may predate the crescent-shaped structure by several centuries.
Another stone monument, a giant cairn that weighs more than 60,000 tons, was discovered recently beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee. Its date is unknown, but like the crescent-shaped structure, it is located close to Bet Yerah.