A nearly 5,000-year-old half-moon-shaped stone monument has been located in Israel. Discovered around 8 miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee, the giant stone structure has a length of about 492 feet, longer than a football field. Archeologists say the monument dates to between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C., making it older than the pyramids of Egypt. The Israeli monument was also built before all except the earliest phases of Stonehenge.
Experts had assumed the structure was part of a city wall, but recent digs carried out by Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student in archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, makes it clear that the structure is a standing monument not associated with an urban area.
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Statement from archeologist
“The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources by a local rural or pastoral population,” Wachtel wrote in the summary of a recent presentation on the stone monument.
When asked how long the structure took to build in an email exchange with Live Science, Wachtel wrote, “The estimation of working days invested in the construction [of] the site is between 35,000 days in the lower estimate [and] 50,000 in the higher.”
If the low-end estimate is right, it means a group of 200 workers would have required over five months to construct the monument, a major undertaking for people who depended on crops for their livelihood. “We need to remember that people were [obligated] most of the year to agriculture,” Wachtel noted.
Stone monument not far from ancient town of Bet Yerah
Archeologists also note the ancient town of Bet Yerah was located only 18 miles away when the stone monument was built.
Bet Yerah was a large, planned town with a strong wall and fortification system, according to recent paper in the Journal of Near Eastern Archaeology. The citizens of Bet Yerah traded with the early kings of Egypt, as evidenced by a number of artifacts, including a jug with hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The name Bet Yerah is thought to relate to a moon god. However, it’s uncertain whether the town was actually called Bet Yerah 5,000 years ago. In the JNEA article, researchers said the name “Bet Yerah” was found in 1,500-year-old Jewish rabbinic texts, but very likely dates back much further.