A team of Jordanian and French archaeologists said Tuesday that they had discovered a 9,000-year-old shrine in Jordan’s eastern desert.
The ritual complex was discovered beside enormous structures known as “desert kites,” or mass traps, that are thought to have been used to gather wild gazelles for killing in a Neolithic campground.
Two or more long stone walls converging toward an enclosure make up these traps, which may be found all over the Middle East’s deserts.
“The site is unusual, first and foremost because of its degree of preservation,” said Jordanian archaeologist Wael Abu-Azziza, the project’s co-director. “It’s 9,000 years old, and it’s practically complete.”
Two carved standing stones with anthropomorphic figures, one with a representation of the “desert kite,” as well as an altar, hearth, marine shells, and a tiny replica of the gazelle trap, were found within the shrine.
The shrine “sheds an entirely new light on the symbolism, creative expression, and spiritual culture of these hitherto unknown Neolithic tribes,” according to the experts.
The traps were “the heart of their cultural, economic, and even symbolic life in this peripheral zone,” according to the statement, and the site’s closeness to them suggests the residents were specialized hunters.
Archaeologists from Jordan’s Al Hussein Bin Talal University and the French Institute of the Near East were part of the team. The site was excavated during the most recent digging season in 2021.