Ancient structure beneath Sea of Galilee puzzles researchers
Cone-shaped monument may be a burial site from the early Bronze Age.
The Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, is hiding a massive monument beneath its waters – and researchers in Israel are eager to unlock its secrets.
Some 6,000 years ago during the Bronze Age, the structure – approximately 32 feet tall, 230 feet in diameter and weighing an estimated 60,000 tons – stood on an ancient shoreline. Whether from shifting tectonic forces or rising water levels, the entire monument was over time submerged beneath 42 feet of water. It was only through a sonar scan in 2003 that researchers came upon it, eventually sending down dive teams to better gauge its dimensions.
"Close inspection by scuba diving revealed that the structure is made of basalt boulders up to 1 m (3.2 feet) long with no apparent construction pattern," the researchers wrote in a journal article. "The boulders have natural faces with no signs of cutting or chiseling. Similarly, we did not find any sign of arrangement or walls that delineate this structure."
Professor Shmulik Marco of Tel Aviv University's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences said that the structure's shape resembles Bronze Age burial sites he's seen throughout the region.
"This is such a huge structure that it truly is something unusual. It could have been a big ceremonial structure, or a ramp. There could have once been statues on top of people in certain rituals. I mean, I'm really going wild here. The truth is we don't know how it was constructed, what its exact age is, how it was used, or how long ago it was used. We have several speculations, but we don't know much except that it's there and it's huge," he was quoted as saying.
Marco told From The Grapevine that the site is of particular interest due to its massive basalt boulders, which likely came from over a mile away and were "arranged according to a specific construction plan."
The next step, Marco said, will be marine archaeologists "digging" underwater to clear the site and map it. "We plan to expose the bottom of the structure and possibly search for a structure (e.g. a chamber) at the center," he added.
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Related Topics: Archaeology