The Oldest Known Blueprints Depict Stone Age ‘Megastructures’

Hoje, às 00:53


6 min de leitura


0 leituras

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known architectural plans to scale in human history, which were engraved in stone some 8,000 to 9,000 years ago by Neolithic peoples in Jordan and Saudi Arabia that...
The Oldest Known Blueprints Depict Stone Age ‘Megastructures’

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known architectural plans to scale in human history, which were engraved in stone some 8,000 to 9,000 years ago by Neolithic peoples in Jordan and Saudi Arabia that built giant megastructures to capture wild game, reports a new study.

The discovery exposes a major milestone in the evolution of human cognition and megastructure development, and may have broad implications for understanding the origins of modern civilization. 

The engravings display nearby constructions called desert “kites,” named for their kite-like shape, that served as enormous animal traps built from stone walls that stretch for miles in some cases. As the earliest examples of accurate blueprints, the items represent a cognitive breakthrough that would eventually give rise to skyscrapers, spacecraft, and all other real-world objects that are now built with the guidance of a schematic.

Jordan engraving 3.jpg

Hill-shaded photogrammetric 3D model of the engraved monolith found in Jibal al-Khashabiyeh, Jordan, showing the different faces, showing the interpretative drawing of the engraved plan on the stone. Credits: SEBAP & Crassard et al. 2023 PLOS ONE.

Saudi engraving 1.JPG

Saudi engraving 1: The engraved boulder from Jebel az-Zilliyat, Saudi Arabia, depicting two desert kites. Credits: Crassard et al. 2023 PLOS ONE (edited)

Humans have created captivating representations of the world for tens of thousands of years, including vivid scenes painted on cave walls and symbolic figures whittled into sculptures. Our species has also built megalithic architectural structures for at least 10,000 years, including the more than 6,000 kites that span the Middle East, Caucasia, and Central Asia. 

Prior to the new discovery, the oldest evidence of accurate scale models dated back about 5,000 years to Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. How earlier cultures built huge structures—including kites that can only be fully seen from the sky—has remained a mystery.

An international team of scientists has now pushed the timeline of this field back by several millennia with “the exceptional discovery of the up-to-now oldest realistic plans, engraved on stones, of some of these human-made archaeological mega-traps, from south-eastern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia, the oldest of which are dated to 9,000 years ago,” according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE.

“The discovery of these engravings was an amazing moment of archaeology,” said Wael Abu-Azizeh, an archeologist at the French Institute of the Near East who co-authored the study, in an email to Motherboard. “All of us were extremely excited when we found them! We were immediately astonished by the accuracy and level of detail of these drawings.” 

The engravings were initially found in 2015 during pedestrian surveys of the Jibal al-Khashabiyeh region of Jordan and the Jebel az-Zilliyat region of Saudi Arabia. The Jordanian carving measures about 30 inches long 13 inches wide, and depicts a kite that was etched out with a stone hammer on a limestone block. The Saudi Arabian engraving is much larger, with dimensions of seven by 12 feet, and appears to have been pecked out, perhaps with a massive pick, on a sandstone boulder.

Both of the maps were located near the remains of desert kites made of long walled passages called “driving lines” that lead to large enclosures, forming the rough shape of a kite. Neolithic hunters used these buildings to lure animals, such as gazelles, into confined spaces where they could be more easily killed. Abu-Azizeh and his colleagues knew the engravings were kites by sight, but computer verification techniques revealed striking resemblances between the stone representations and the actual megastructures in their proximity. 

Saudi kite 4.JPG

Archaeologists excavating a desert kite in Jebel az-Zilliyat, Saudi Arabia. Credits: O. Barge, CNRS.

“We very quickly understood the importance of these drawings, because we had knowledge about the nearby kites, their shape and organization, as well as their early dating,” Abu-Azizeh said. “We therefore were immediately surprised by the similarity of the drawing with the hunting desert kite structures. That’s how we realized that the engravings were actually accurate plans at scale” whereas “the quantitative comparison of the kite shape depicted on the drawings and the real kite plans confirmed this initial hypothesis.”

The unprecedented accuracy of these engravings differentiates them from earlier human proto-maps found in Spain, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic, which “are abstract representations, not scaled depictions of a landscape,” according to the new study. 

The kite blueprints also open a window into the minds of their Neolithic creators, raising new questions about how these people were able to envision structures that can only be seen in their entirety with an aerial perspective. 

“These engravings reflect a way of perceiving and conceiving space,” said Olivier Barge, an archaeologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research who co-authored the study, in an email to Motherboard. “The engravings show human spatial representations that involve perceiving the world not by being ‘in the world’ but ‘above the world’ (even beyond).” 

“This type of perception/representation is unusual if we consider civilizations over the long term,” he added. “It was thought until now that the first indication of this type of perception/conception dates back to the third millennium BC in Mesopotamia. These plans therefore bring it back much earlier... and this concerns populations of hunters, probably nomadic or semi-nomadic, and not necessarily literate societies as previously supposed.”

While the new discovery opens up many new research avenues, Abu-Azizeh, Barge, and their colleagues are most interested in learning more about the specific Neolithic peoples who pioneered stone blueprints to guide their construction projects some 8,000 years ago.

“For us, it only makes us want to know these populations better, their way of life, the way in which the hunting of gazelles on a large scale entered into their economic model, as we would say today,” Barge concluded. “For this period, hunting gazelles beyond the subsistence needs of the group, as was probably the case, is already a big question. We have work!”


By signing up, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy & to receive electronic communications from Vice Media Group, which may include marketing promotions, advertisements and sponsored content.

Continue lendo


Meta bets big on AI with custom chips -- and a supercomputer
At a virtual event this morning, Meta lifted the curtains on its efforts to develop in-house infrastructure for AI workloads, including generative AI like the type that underpins its recently launched ad...

Hoje, às 16:00


Meta built a code-generating AI model similar to Copilot
Meta says it’s created a generative AI tool for coding similar to GitHub’s Copilot. The company made the announcement at an event focused on its AI infrastructure efforts, including custom chips Meta’s...

Hoje, às 16:00

Tech Crunch

Stability AI open sources its AI-powered design studio
Stability AI, the AI startup behind the text-to-image model Stable Diffusion, this week announced the release of StableStudio, an open source version of DreamStudio, Stability AI’s commercial AI-powered...

Hoje, às 15:34


Demystifying the useEffect Hook in React: A Beginner's Guide
Today, we're diving into the useEffect hook, an essential tool in your React arsenal. Understanding the different ways to use useEffect will empower you to handle side effects and manage component lifecycles...

Hoje, às 15:27


Mortal Kombat 1 é finalmente revelado e volta às origens!
Os fãs dos jogos de luta estavam ansiosos e, finalmente, a espera terminou! O tão especulado e também aguardado reboot da série de Mortal Kombat foi anunciado nessa manhã de quinta-feira (18) e será lançado...

Hoje, às 14:38

Hacker News

Language Log » "Quid pro crow"
« previous post | next post » In Maria Bartiromo's recent interview with James Comer (R-KY), there's an interesting speech error — "quid pro crow" for "quid pro quo": This being Language Log rather...

Hoje, às 14:33

Tech Crunch

Pitch Deck Teardown: Ageras' $36M Private Equity deck
Most of the pitch decks we cover in the Pitch Deck Teardown series are for relatively young companies, but to celebrate our 50th pitch deck teardown, I figured I’d do something slightly different. Today,...

Hoje, às 14:30

IT Forum

Veritas cresce 30% na AL e projeta salto com evolução da segurança em nuvem
Em sua segunda passagem pela Veritas, Greg Hughes assumiu como CEO da empresa em 2018. De lá para cá, o crescimento da companhia focada em soluções de segurança tem sido notório, globalmente e, especialmente,...

Hoje, às 14:28


Alibaba to spin off its cloud, AI and business messenger unit
Seven weeks after Alibaba announced its historic restructuring plan to split itself into six independent companies, the juggernaut is gearing up to spin off its intelligence group. Alibaba went public in New York back in 2014, marking the largest IPO at the time. Not long after Hong Kong relaxed rules around dual-class structures, which allow […]

Hoje, às 14:23

AI | Techcrunch

YouTube is bringing 30-second unskippable ads to TVs
YouTube is making its service more appealing to TV ad buyers with a new ad offering announced on Wednesday at its annual YouTube Brandcast upfront event in New York. The company said it will introduce...

Hoje, às 14:09