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Scientists have discovered the oldest human-made mechanical plans dating between 7,000 and 8,000 years old.

Distribution and characterization of desert kites

Scientists have discovered the oldest scale plans of a human-made megastructure. These engravings, estimated to be between 7,000 and 8,000 years old, illustrate nearby desert kites, which were vast structures used to trap animals. This milestone in intelligent behavior demonstrates the ability to depict large spaces on a small, two-dimensional surface, and provides insight into the conception and construction of kites.

In the 1920s, airplanes first discovered the existence of desert kites. These remarkable archaeological structures consist of walls that can stretch up to 5 kilometers, converging into an enclosure with pits designed to trap animals. Only from an aerial view can the entirety of these structures be seen, revealing a unique representation of space not seen before.

Researchers from CNRS, Université Lyon, and their team have discovered two engravings showcasing kites in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In the Jibal al-Khasabiyeh area of Jordan, eight kites were found, along with a stone carving measuring 80 cm long and 32 cm wide, made using stone tools, dating back to roughly 7,000 years ago. Meanwhile, in Zebel az-Zilliyat, Saudi Arabia, two pairs of kites located 3.5km apart were discovered. The team also excavated a large-scale engraving, measuring 382 cm long and 235 cm wide, which was reportedly pecked instead of carved, potentially with hand picks. This particular depiction is believed to be around 8,000 years old.

The constructors would have required plans like these to understand the whole layout, which is impossible to visualize without an aerial view. Previous evidence of plans for large structures has only been in rough representations, but these designs are exceptionally precise.

For thousands of years, humans have been altering natural environments through construction projects. However, there are very few records or maps that exist from before the time of the literate societies in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. These ancient plans are the earliest known examples of scaled maps in human history.

The authors add: “The oldest known plans to scale in human history are reported in our study. The engravings, dated to between 8,000 and 9,000 years old, were discovered in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They depict nearby desert kites that were humanmade mega structures used to trap wild animals. Although human constructions have modified natural spaces for millennia, few plans or maps predate the period of the literate civilizations of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. The ability to transpose large space onto a small, two dimensional surface represents a milestone in intelligent behavior. Such structures are visible as a whole only from the air, yet this calls for the representation of space in a way not seen at this time.”

You can read the entire journal article here. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0277927

  • Distribution and characterization of desert kites
  • Discovery of the engraved stone in Jibal al-Khashabiyeh, Jordan
  • Detailed photographs of the engraved stone surface from Jibal al-Khashabiyeh, Jordan
  • Location of the engraved rock in Wadi az-Zilliyat, Saudi Arabia

Image Credits

In-Article Image Credits

Distribution and characterization of desert kites via Crassard, R., Abu-Azizeh, W., Barge, O., Brochier, J. É., Preusser, F., Seba, H., Kiouche, A. E., Régagnon, E., Sánchez Priego, J. A., Almalki, T., & Tarawneh, M. with usage type - News Release Media
Discovery of the engraved stone in Jibal al-Khashabiyeh, Jordan via Crassard, R., Abu-Azizeh, W., Barge, O., Brochier, J. É., Preusser, F., Seba, H., Kiouche, A. E., Régagnon, E., Sánchez Priego, J. A., Almalki, T., & Tarawneh, M. with usage type - News Release Media
Detailed photographs of the engraved stone surface from Jibal al-Khashabiyeh, Jordan via Plos Journal with usage type - News Release Media
Location of the engraved rock in Wadi az-Zilliyat, Saudi Arabia via Plos Journals with usage type - News Release Media

Featured Image Credit

Distribution and characterization of desert kites via Crassard, R., Abu-Azizeh, W., Barge, O., Brochier, J. É., Preusser, F., Seba, H., Kiouche, A. E., Régagnon, E., Sánchez Priego, J. A., Almalki, T., & Tarawneh, M. with usage type - News Release Media

 

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