A monumental platform was discovered “hiding in plain sight” at the world famous Petra World Heritage site in Jordan. The discovery was made about half a mile from the city center. Researchers used modern-day techniques like drone and satellite imagery to confirm the existence of an elevated platform that once served a ceremonial purpose.
Researchers have made an astonishing discovery of a monumental structure that dates back at least a couple of millennia. Archaeologists Christopher Tuttle and Sarah Parcak, who discovered the astonishing structure, relied on satellite imagery from Google Earth, satellites WorldView-1 and WorldView-2, and drones sent to photograph the site. The team thereafter conducted ground surveys, to locate and document the structure, notes the study published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
The structure is located 800 meters south of Petra’s center. The structure is quite large. Lengthwise it rivals an Olympic-size swimming pool, but breadthwise it is twice as wide. The construction is quite extensive as well. The structure consists of a platform at its base measuring 56-by-49 meters (184-by-161 feet). It also has a much smaller, but more elaborate elevated platform measuring 8.5-by-8.5 meters (28-by-28 feet).
According to National Geographic, experts speculate the second platform was originally paved with flagstones, and its east side had once been lined with a row of columns topping a giant staircase. Speaking about the discovery, Tuttle, the executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers said the following.
“I’m sure that over the course of two centuries of research [in Petra], someone had to know [this site] was there, but it’s never been systematically studied or written up. I’ve worked in Petra for 20 years, and I knew that something was there, but it’s certainly legitimate to call this a discovery.”
Pottery and related broken artifacts recovered from site date back to about 150 BCE. The archeologists who made the discovery of the structure claim the platform’s design has no parallels to any other structure in the ancient city, reportedThe Telegraph.
“This monumental platform has no parallels at Petra or in its hinterlands at present. The amount of effort to construct the site was massive, yet the focal building itself is quite small. The structure is only half a mile away from the city center but is hidden and hard to reach.
“The ancient people built the platform when Petra was flourishing as the capital city of Nabataean kingdom, possibly as early as the mid-century B.C.E.”
While the archeologists are still studying the complex structure, preliminary findings indicate it may have served a ceremonial purpose in its heyday. Researchers speculate the structure might have also been a chapel used on a daily basis during the Byzantine era. Thereafter, during the rise of Islam, the place may have had a more mundane function like a campsite, reportedFox News.
The site is said to be hiding in plain sight probably because it lay buried under the sands of Petra south of the center of the ancient city. Petra caught tourists’ attention after it was in one of the defining scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. However, ever since ISIS began spreading violence, tourism has dropped drastically, forcing the Jordanian government to waive off the 40 dinar (£37) visa fee in 2015.
Sarah Parcak, who is now famous as a “space archaeologist,” owes the discovery to modern-day tools and assures that many more treasures could soon discovered.
“Petra represents one of the most well-known and surveyed archaeological parks in the world. Yet significant structures within range of its central city remain to be discovered.”
[Photo by Joel Carillet/Getty Images]