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Neolithic shrine uncovered in Jordanian desert

Archaeologists excavating in the Jordanian desert have uncovered a Neolithic shrine dating from around 9,000-years-ago.

The discovery was made by a joint Jordanian-French team in the Badia region of the Khashabiyeh Mountains, revealing two standing stones that depict carved anthropomorphic figures and an altar and hearth.

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On one of the standing stones is a depiction of a human figure, whilst on the other is a small-scale model of a “desert kite” type structure, commonly found in eastern Jordan, the Negev Desert of Israel, and the Sinai Desert of Egypt. Desert Kites were used for trapping game animals, consisting of long dry-stone walls converging on a neck, opening into a confined space used to slaughter prey.

Behind the stones is a structured deposit consisting of marine fossils, many of which have been arranged vertically or in specific orientations, in addition to a variety of smaller standing stones, animal figurines and worked flint objects.

According to the state-run Jordan News Agency, the shrine was a Neolithic campsite associated with nearby desert kites, used by the hunters for ceremonial offerings and animal sacrifices.

The researchers suggest that the shrine and desert kites were viewed by their builders as a centre of their cultural, economic, and even symbolic life in these marginal zones. As specialised hunters, they likely lived in semi-subterranean circular house, in contrast to the peoples of the neighbouring Fertile Crescent who survived largely by farming and herding.

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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