World’s oldest architectural blueprints could unravel the mystery of desert kites


Middle Eastern deserts feature massive structures known as desert kites that were carved into the rocky terrain more than 8,000 years ago. In a new study, archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest architectural blueprints, detailing how ancient humans managed to build these massive structures. Desert kites were identified in the 1920s after planes began flying over deserts and noticed unusual patterns in the landscape. Although archaeologists have long been uncertain about the purpose of these structures, they are now believed to have been used as animal traps placed along migration routes to trap herds of gazelles, antelopes and other game animals. How did desert kites come about? These structures are basically walls of rock and earth that can be up to 5 kilometers long, barely noticeable from ground level, but appearing like a giant pattern when viewed from above. Given their scale, it was previously unknown how prehistoric humans designed and built structures without seeing them from the air. But the relatively recent discovery of two engravings in Jordan and Saudi Arabia helps explain this. At Zebel az-Zilliyat in Saudi Arabia are two desert kites that are at least 8,000 years old and are about 3.5 kilometers apart. Here, the researchers also found engravings 382 centimeters long that looked like scale plans of desert kites. If they correctly interpreted the purpose of the engravings, this means that the engravings are the oldest known scale plans in human history. This period, when people began to master agriculture and establish orderly civilizations, has a very important place in human history. The researchers argue that the discovery of these architectural blueprints appears to be a turning point in human intelligence. The engravings show that desert kites are not built haphazardly but put together in an orderly fashion that requires abstract thought and bold imagination. “These representations shed new light on the evolution of human reasoning about space, communication, and social activities in ancient times,” the study authors write in their article. There are very few plans or maps based on it. The ability to transfer a large space onto a small, two-dimensional surface represents a milestone in intelligent behavior. Such structures can only be seen as a whole from the air, but this requires a representation of the space that was not visible at the time.” The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. Related Gallery Russian Architecture and Structures Defying the Years Browse Gallery


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