Massive stone structures that were spotted for the first time in 2017 could some of the first monuments built by humanity. The structures are spread across Saudi Arabia in a large number and a variety of places, including the slope of a volcano.
A team of researchers wanted to learn more about the ancient objects, which are known as mustatils (Arabic for rectangle). Radiocarbon tests infer that the structures were built around 5000 B.C., and they may have been used for rituals.
Part of the rituals
Low stone walls were placed in a form that is reminiscent of a field gate when viewed from above. The size of the structures varies, with the smaller ones measuring 15 meters (or 49 feet) while the biggest ones can reach up to 616 meters or 2.021 feet.
Many of the mustatils featured a platform on one of the sides. The platform of one mustatil contained a painting with geometric elements, with the design being unique in comparison to other rock paintings found in the region. Many of the structures could have been fully painted.
A low number of artifacts were found within the structures, a fact which suggests that they weren’t used continuously. There are also no signs which would suggest that the mustatils were built with a functional purpose in mind, since they are quite low and there are no obvious entry points in most cases.
It is speculated that the mustatils could have been used as a form of territorial markers as people in the region favored a pastoral lifestyle. As such, the mustatils would have marked boundaries between valuable graze lands, which were hard to find, especially since there were many droughts.
The research has been well-received by the scientific community, and a paper was published in a journal.