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Art & Culture

Unearthing Spatial Mastery: 9,000-Year-Old Architectural Plans Found

  • Culture.org
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  • June 2, 2023
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  • 3 minute read
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Unearthing Spatial Mastery: 9,000-Year-Old Architectural Plans Found
Key Takeaways
  • Oldest known architectural plans: Archaeologists have uncovered the oldest known architectural plans dating back over 9,000 years in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These plans provide insights into the architectural ingenuity of our ancestors and represent large-scale hunting structures known as kites.
  • Detailed and accurate engravings: The discovered stone slabs feature remarkably realistic and to-scale engravings of the kite structures. They accurately depict the layout, shape, and proportions of the structures, showcasing an advanced understanding of spatial awareness during the Neolithic period.
  • Communal construction and communication: The construction and maintenance of these grandiose kites would have required communal effort and coordination. These structures highlight the necessity of communal collaboration and communication, emphasizing the societal and cultural significance of these early spatial representations.
  • Evidence of advanced spatial cognition: The engravings provide evidence of accurate cartographic representation and demonstrate the ability of the builders to conceive and represent large-scale spatial arrangements. The discovery challenges previous assumptions about the capabilities of ancient civilizations and sheds light on the evolution of human cognition.
  • Milestone in human history: The ability to transpose a mental conception of a large, three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional surface, as showcased by these ancient plans, marks a significant milestone in intelligent behavior throughout human history. The findings challenge modern perceptions of space and offer valuable insights into the development of human cognition.

 

The oldest known architectural plans in existence, dating back more than 9,000 years, have been uncovered in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

This groundbreaking discovery was announced in a study recently published in the esteemed scientific journal PLOS One.

The unearthed plans offer a deep insight into the architectural ingenuity of our ancestors.

These remarkably accurate etchings on stone slabs represent large-scale hunting structures from the Stone Age, known as kites due to their shape.

Constructed from massive converging walls, some spanning more than three miles, these traps were designed to herd wild animals towards a central corral bordered by deep pits.

The animals, once contained, would then be dispatched en masse.

Over 6,000 similar structures have been identified across the Middle East and Asia, with the highest concentration in present-day Saudi Arabia, southern Syria, and eastern Jordan. 

Although first noticed from aircraft in the 1920s, in-depth studies of these structures have been few.

Prehistoric Precision: The Engravings

Two engraved slabs were unearthed in 2015, one in Saudi Arabia and the other in Jordan.

The Jordanian slab, around two-and-a-half feet long and believed to be approximately 7,000 years old, was found near the Jibal al-Khashabiyeh settlement, which is already known to house eight kite structures.

On the other hand, the larger 13-feet long stone was found in Saudi Arabia’s Jebel az-Zilliyat region. This slab, estimated to be 8,000 years old, illustrates two distinct kite structures located a mere 394 feet apart.

The engravings found on both slabs are astonishingly realistic and to scale, accurately reflecting the layout, shape, and proportions of the kite structures, with the only exception being the depiction of the deep pits, which are represented as simple circles.

These depictions indicate that the kites in Saudi Arabia were created on a 1:175 scale and the Jordanian kite was a staggering 425 times larger than its plan.

Impressively, the drawings also maintain cardinal directions.

These depictions indicate that the kites in Saudi Arabia were created on a 1:175 scale and the Jordanian kite was a staggering 425 times larger than its plan.

Architectural Marvels of the Neolithic Period

The representation of these structures, some of the largest human-made structures of their time, implies an advanced understanding of spatial awareness in the Neolithic period.

The construction of these grandiose kites would undoubtedly have required communal effort, revealing the extent of coordinated activities in these early societies.

Remarkably, these etchings provide evidence of the existence of accurate cartographic representation in this period.

They are the oldest known realistic, scale reproductions, shedding light on the progression of human cognition and spatial understanding in ancient times.

The discovery of these meticulously etched stone slabs suggests that the constructors of these mega-structures had the ability to conceive and represent large-scale spatial arrangements, an ability that has been largely underestimated until now.

Communal Construction and Communication

The intricate design, assembly, and maintenance of these kites emphasize the necessity of communal effort and communication, especially in sharing spatial information.

The societal and cultural significance of these structures in the context of Neolithic development is thus reflected in these earliest known planimetric representations.

Although these kite structures were constructed using unsophisticated techniques, the comprehensive layout indicates the use of advanced methods, signifying the evolution of a complex representation of space.

This breakthrough discovery challenges modern perceptions of space and offers valuable insights into the evolution of human cognition.

The ability to transpose a mental conception of a large, three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional surface, as demonstrated by these ancient plans, marks a significant milestone in intelligent behavior throughout human history.

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