The Middle East, it seems, is home to a mysterious prehistoric monument that is as almost old as the famed Stonehenge in England. Located in the Golan Heights region, this spectacular monument, called “Wheel of Giants”, features five concentric circles made of heaped stone rubble, with a burial mound situated right at the center.
Built nearly 5,000 years ago, this strange monument is known as Rujm el-Hiri (Arabic for “stone of the wild cat”). In Hebrew, it is called Gilgal Refaim, which translates into “Wheel of Giants” and refers to the race of Biblical giants. It was discovered back in 1967, after Israel captured the Syrian territory of Golan Heights during the Six-Day War. Despite being over 500 feet (around 150 meter) wide, the monument’s low height makes it nearly indistinguishable from the ground level. It was only while studying an aerial survey of the region that archaeologists stumbled across this ancient monument. Uri Berger, a megalithic tomb expert working for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said:
It’s an enigmatic site. We have bits of information, but not the whole picture. Scientists come and are amazed by the site and think up their own theories.
Unlike Stonehenge, which is comprised of huge monoliths erected on the ground, the Wheel of Giants is made up of thousands of smaller pieces of basalt rocks, whose combined weight is believed to be more than 40,000 tonnes. Each of the five circles reaches a maximum height of 6.6 feet (or 2 meter), with the outer walls rising to a height of around 8 feet (approx. 2.5 meter). Unfortunately, the tomb present inside the 15-feet (about 5-meter) high burial mound was removed by robbers a long time ago. Berger added:
All the five big, huge monumental walls around us are all, we think, were built for this chamber, the one who was buried inside it. This is one of the theories.
Archaeologists believe that the Wheel of Giants was built by a nomadic tribe inhabiting the area, in around 3,500 BC. How such a primitive civilization managed to construct a monument of that scale, however, is something that continues to baffle researchers. According to a 2010 study published in the Biblical Archaeology Review journal, the Golan circles could have been a “calendrical device”, used to estimate the arrival of summer and winter solstices. Yet another group of experts are of the opinion that the tomb was added nearly 2,000 years after the circles were built.
Over the years, excavation works at the site have revealed pottery fragments and flint tools, which in turn aid in determining the date of construction of the monument. At present, the area is part of a complex used by the Israeli military for training purposes.
Via: The Jerusalem Post