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Now, Al-Saeed and his colleagues have posted on their Web site more “works of the Old Men” located 600 kilometers (372 mi) south of the Jordanian panhandle and about 200 kilometers (125 mi) north of Madinah. The most striking are the so-called “kites,” the remnants of long stone walls most likely built by groups of hunters to trap game; the walls outline the shape of a child’s kite. But the kites are huge: The “body” is a wall enclosing a corral-like space often 100 or more meters (328') across. The “tails,” two or more walls running out from the head, are typically each a few hundred meters long, but they can be as long as two or three kilometers (1.2–1.8 mi). On the ground, however, kites are almost impossible to find, because the walls, built of basalt boulders, are only about a meter (3') wide and their surviving height is seldom over half a meter, making them nearly invisible on a landscape already thickly strewn with the same rock.
Prospects for Lava-Cave Studies in Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia
The National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project is based on evidence that all modern human beings are descendants of people who left Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. These emigrants apparently followed two basic routes: one around the northern tip of the Red Sea and the other via the Bab Al Mandab at the southern end of the Red Sea. Those who followed the latter route and then traveled north on foot would quickly have found that the interior of the Arabian Peninsula was as harsh and unfriendly in the past as it is today, as has recently been proven by the attempted dating of stalagmites taken from limestone caves in the interior of longest lava caves in the world.
2. Archeological and paleontological surveys of the caves in Harrat Khaybar should be undertaken because of their proximity to archeological sites and ancient migration and trade routes
The Key-hole sites are completely new to me. The Key-hole sites are completely new to me. I suspect they are again burial sites. I suspect they are again burial sites. المواقع التي تشبه ثقب المفتاح (مثلث ودائرة)جديدة تماماً بالنسية لي,اتوقع انها مواقع دفن Sites that resemble the key hole (triangle and circle) an entirely new relation to me, I expect it burial sites Kites: the date is difficult. Kites: the date is difficult. The best information suggests they can be as much as 7000-8000 years old. The best information suggests they can be as much as 7000-8000 years old. On the other hand they were still being used in Syria as animal traps into the 19th and 20th centuries. On the other hand they were still being used in Syria as animal traps into the 19th and 20th centuries. I think it is safest to say that your kites in the Harrat Khaybar may have been built any time from the 7th millennium BC onwards and are certainly very old. I think it is safest to say that your kites in the Harrat Khaybar may have been built any time from the 7th millennium BC onwards and are certainly very old. Kites are very common in northeast Jordan, southern Syria and northern Saudi Arabia. Kites are very common in northeast Jordan, southern Syria and northern Saudi Arabia. They are also found in central and northern Syria and in Kazakhstan. They are also found in central and northern Syria and in Kazakhstan. They usually have very similar features that allow us to identify them as a 'kite'. They usually have very similar features that allow us to identify them as a 'kite'. But the precise design can vary a great deal. But the precise design can vary a great deal. In Jordan there are several different types including one with a head like a spear blade. In Jordan there are several different types including one with a head like a spear blade. Your arrow type is very interesting and not found in Jordan. Your arrow type is very interesting and not found in Jordan. The more complex ones you have in your area could be called “Barbed-Arrowhead Types”. The more complex ones you have in your area could be called "Barbed-Arrowhead Types". A few of those I have seen in your area are different, however, and look a little more like the examples in Jordan. A few of those I have seen in your area are different, however, and look a little more like the examples in Jordan.
Now we come to the “keyhole tombs” and the “gates,” both novelties of the Harrat Khaybar, structures that are striking because of their unexpected, unique forms and their astonishing numbers. The keyhole tombs usually consist of a circular enclosure at the head of stone walls that form an isosceles triangle. There are numerous variations in size and in the relationships of circles and courtyards: In a few places the two are completely separated, and in others the triangle has been elongated so much it begins to look similar to the general form of some pendant tombs. Al-Saeed and the Desert Team visited a number of these structures, and their ground photographs confirm that the walls are built of dry-laid masonry, but set out carefully and often still standing a meter or more high.
I have yet to count the various tombs in the Khaybar and Al-Hayit areas, but they appear to number well into the thousands. In some places they form necropolises, with the tombs arranged on either side of avenues: Around Al-Hayit, I counted 13 such avenues with an aggregate length of about 24 kilometers (15 mi). Extrapolating from a count of a randomly selected section, I estimate there are about 1000 tombs on these avenues. To that we should add as many more tombs scattered in between, plus an unknown number already overbuilt by modern development. All around these are even larger numbers of small circular tumuli, which may be the remains of individual burials. In all, we are looking at one of the most extraordinary prehistoric funerary landscapes on the planet—and that’s still not all.
Also visible in the Harrat Khaybar window, mainly in the same area as kites but also further east, are hundreds of sites which can best be described as looking like simple gates laid flat: a “post” at either end with two (but occasionally three to five) “rails” in between. They can vary a great deal in size, from five or 10 meters long (16–32') to a hundred meters (320') or more. The key element is surely the posts, which appear to be dense heaps of boulders, and which may again be burial places. My own count yielded 95 such gates, but only a future detailed survey, including ground visits, will fully catalogue them.
Mysterious desert lines were animal traps
Walls formed large funnels to direct gazelle and other large game animals
By Larry O'Hanlon
updated 1:39 p.m. ET, Tues., April 20, 2010
British RAF pilots in the early 20th century were the first to spot the strange kite-like lines on the deserts of Israel, Jordan and Egypt from the air and wonder about their origins. The lines are low, stone walls, usually found as angled pairs, that begin far apart and converge at circular pits. In some places in Jordan the lines formed chains up to 40 miles long.
Were they made by some weird kind of fault? Ancient astronauts?
A new study of 16 of what are called desert kites in the eastern Sinai Desert confirms what many researchers have long suspected: The walls form large funnels to direct gazelle and other large game animals into killing pits. What's more, the kites are between 2,300 and 2,400-years-old, were abandoned about 2,200 years ago and are just the right size to have worked on local gazelles and other hooved game.
"The research shows that the construction of the kite was actually more sophisticated than it seemed before, their use was more diverse than we thought, and the ancients' knowledge of animal ethology was deeper and more intimate than one would think," said Uzi Avner of Ben-Gurion University-Eilat, in Israel.
"We have no doubt at all that the kites were built for hunting, not for any other suggested function."
Avner is a co-author of a paper on the new research which will appear in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Arid Environments.
For a time, many researchers suspected the kites might be corrals for protecting domesticated animals, but that idea has fallen out of favor as more research has been done.
"The hunting theory is the most accepted, and it appears that for most kites this was indeed the use," said Dani Nadel, another kite researcher from the University of Haifa, Israel. "There are similar structures, either from wood or from stone, on most continents."
Interestingly, the walls of the kites are not high enough to actually block the animals. Rather, they just seem to channel herds in the right direction. Modern wildlife managers in the same region have used a similar approach by laying pipes on the ground to direct gazelles into a corral, Avner reports.
A careful examination of not just the kites but their locations in relation to pastures and migration routes makes it very clear that desert kites were specialized for specific types of animals. Before the 20th century the region was home to several different species of gazelle, wild asses, hartebeests, oryxes, ibexes, dorcas and onagers.
Some kites cleverly exploited low spots in the landscape to lure animals into the unseen killing pit.
"Indeed, the pit would have appeared to the animals in the funnel as an opening in the boundary walls of the kite through which they could flee," Avner reports.
Another sort of kite was found on steep slopes or ridges below a plateau or shoulder of a hill so that animals driven over the ridge would suddenly be confronted by the installation before and below them, Avner explained.
As for why the kites fell out of use, it's still a bit of a mystery, says Nadel.
"They were abandoned, in several south-Negev cases, by the beginning of the middle Bronze age," said Nadel. "This may suggest a climatic change and or a shift in subsistence strategies."