An enormous monument has been hiding in plain sight at the World Heritage site of Petra, according to a study recently published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
Image Source: news.nationalgeographic.com
Archaeologists Sarah Parcak, a National Geographic fellow, and Christopher Tuttle, executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, used high-resolution satellite imagery followed by aerial drone photography and ground surveys to locate and document the structure. Satellites and drones helped reveal huge ceremonial platform, unlike any other know so far, near the ancient city’s center.
Petra is a historical and archaeological city of southern Jordan. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Petra was named amongst the New7Wonders of the World in 2007 and was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”. It was the capital of the Arab tribe known as the Nabataeans from its likely founding in the mid-second century B.C. The site was essentially abandoned at the end of the Byzantine period in the seventh century A.D.
They report that the monument is roughly as long as an Olympic-size swimming pool and twice as wide. It sits only about half a mile (800 meters) south of the center of the ancient city.
The newly revealed structure consists of a 184-by-161-foot (about 56-by-49-meter) platform that encloses a slightly smaller platform originally paved with flagstones. The east side of the interior platform had been lined with a row of columns that once crowned a monumental staircase.
A small 28-by-28-foot (8.5-by-8.5-meter) building was centered north-south atop the interior platform and opened to the east, facing the staircase.
It may have been constructed to carry out public ceremonial funtions.