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Hundreds of Monumental “Kites” Spotted in Arabian Desert

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Jordan Kite AerialOXFORD, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Oxford, some 350 monumental structures known as “kites” have been spotted in northern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq with satellite imagery. Michael Fradley of Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) and his colleagues used open-source satellite imagery to look for the star-shaped structures, which consist of long, low stone walls, in the eastern Nafud Desert. The walls are thought to have been built as early as 8000 B.C., when the region was wetter and greener, to guide fast-moving game into a head enclosure where it could be captured or killed. Fradley explained that the heads of some of these kites measure more than 300 feet wide, while the guiding walls can run for more than two miles. The kites were probably built and rebuilt over generations, and may have also served as an expression of status and identity, and a way to mark territory. Further research will explore who built the kites, where they lived while building them, and how the game was used. Read the original scholarly article about this research in The Holocene. To read about rectangular stone monuments scattered throughout the deserts of northwestern Saudi Arabia, go to "Around the World: Saudi Arabia."

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