Gallery: Aerial Photos Reveal Mysterious Stone Structures

Giant Wheels

wheel structures in jordan

(Image credit: David L. Kennedy APAAME_20080925_DLK-0308)

The area near the Azraq Oasis in Jordan has hundreds of wheels, large structures made of stone that date back at least 2,000 years. These wheel structures are often found on lava fields and range from 82 feet to 230 feet (25 meters to 70 meters) across. Archaeologists used to believe that the Azraq Oasis wheels were used as a cemetery although that is now in doubt. (Unless otherwise noted, all the photographs in this album are taken from the air, as one can't make out the structures from flat ground.) [Read full story]

Stone Shapes

shapes of various wheel structures in Mideast

(Image credit: Stafford Smith)

The Harrat ash-Sham lava field stretches from Syria to Saudi Arabia and contains thousands of wheels. Here, drawings reveal the various shapes these structures can take.

Azraq Oasis

wheel stone structure in Azraq Oasis

(Image credit: David D. Boyer APAAME_20080925_DDB-0237 )

Another cluster of wheels found near the Azraq Oasis.

From Above

wheel stone structure in Azraq Oasis

(Image credit: David D. Boyer APAAME_20080925_DDB-0257)

Close-up photo of one of the wheels from the Azraq area. Photographed from the air it has an amorphous design.

Stone Dots

wheel stone structure in jordan

(Image credit: Robert H. Bewley APAAME_20090928_RHB-0120)

These stone structures have a wide variety of designs, with a common one being a circle with spokes radiating inside. This wheel in Jordan looks like it has four dots within its spokes.

The Squeeze

wheel stone structure in jordan

(Image credit: David L. Kennedy APAAME_20090917_DLK-0618)

This circular wheel looks kind of squeezed in this aerial photo. Researchers are still puzzled over what these stone circles were used for, with some suggesting perhaps they were places of worship or used for rituals connected with astronomical events.

Big Bubbles

wheel stone structure in jordan

(Image credit: David L. Kennedy APAAME_20090928_DLK-0660)

The wheels in this picture are very amorphous, their spokes looking like bubbles.

Stone Piles

wheel stone structure in jordan with cairns

(Image credit: Robert H. Bewley APAAME_20090928_RHB-0092)

Cairns, or piles of stones, are often found associated with the wheels, sometimes circling the perimeter and other times in among the spokes. Here, the wheel to the south has a ring of such cairns around it.

Radiating Spokes

wheel stone structure in jordan

(Image credit: David L. Kennedy APAAME_20091008_DLK-0205)

The spokes of this wheel radiate from a central hub.

Closing In on Wheels

wheel stone structure in jordan

(Image credit: David L. Kennedy. APAAME_20081102_DLK-0061-1)

In this photo the helicopter carrying the team descends toward the ground near two wheels. Even from reduced elevation the wheels are still visible.

Can You See It?

wheel stone structure in jordan

(Image credit: David L. Kennedy APAAME_20081102_DLK-0062-2)

At ground level the two wheels are practically invisible and appear as little more than a jumble of stones. [Read full story]