The Big Circles
The Khatt Shebib isn't the only ancient structure in Jordan that has archaeologists puzzled; Stone circles, dating back 2,000 years and dotting the Jordanian countryside, also have scientists scratching their heads.
Known simply as the "Big Circles," 11 of these structures have been spotted so far in Jordan. The circles are about 1,312 feet (400 m) in diameter and are just a few feet high. None of these short-walled circles have openings for people or animals to walk through, so it's unlikely that they are ancient examples of livestock corrals, according to archaeologists. So what exactly were they for? No one knows.
Researchers are now comparing the Big Circles with other circular stone structures in the Middle East to figure out their mysterious purpose.
The Cochno Stone
What is it with all these mysterious stones? In 2016, archaeologists in Glasgow, Scotland, excavated a 5,000-year-old stone slab (and its enigmatic history).
The so-called Cochno Stone measures 43 feet by 26 feet (13 by 8 meters) and contains swirling patterns known as "cup and ring marks" that have also been identified at prehistoric sites in other parts of the world. The slab may be an example of ancient artwork, according to Kenny Brophy, an archaeologist and senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow.
Researchers who studied the Concho Stone in the 1930s believed the stone's inscriptions may have been linked to astronomical phenomena, like eclipses, but Brophy doesn't think that's the case. He and his team of researchers are currently studying the stone more closely to discern how prehistoric people may have used it.
And now for the mother load of mysterious stones: Meet Super-Henge, a massive stone monument located just 2 miles(3.2 km) from Stonehenge in the U.K.
The huge monument, which is made up of a collection of stone monoliths, was unearthed in 2015. Archaeologists found the monoliths beneath the bank of the Durrington Walls (a grass-covered, circular embankment). This super-henge was probably part of a huge Neolithic monument of some sort, according to researchers.
Archaeologists aren’t sure of the stones' original purpose, but they believe that the 15-foot-tall (4.5 m) slabs once stood upright before they were pushed over some 4,500 years ago. The giant monument stands at the site of a natural depression near the Avon river, and it's possible that the stones once helped form a C-shaped "arena" where springs and a valley led down to the river.
In 2003, scientists in Israel discovered an enormous stone structure beneath the Sea of Galilee. The monument, which is made up of many giant stones placed on top of one another, weighs an estimated 60,000 tons (heavier than most warships) and rises nearly 32 feet (10 meters) high.
The scientists who found this underwater rock pile, or cairn, have no idea what it may have been used for, though cairns in other parts of the world traditionally mark burials, according to the researchers. Other huge rock structures are located nearby, though none of these known structures are underwater. It's possible that rising sea levels submerged what was once a land-based cairn, the researchers explained after the discovery. Yitzhak Paz, of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University, believes this aquatic monument could date back more than 4,000 years. It may be the remains of some kind of fortified settlement, Paz told Live Science in 2013. [See Photos of the Mysterious Sea of Galilee Structure]
Archaeologists have unearthed plenty of holy artifacts, including jars, but uncovering a holey jar (i.e. a jar full of holes) was a first for researchers. The jar, which was initially recovered from a bomb crater outside of London after WWII, dates back to Roman Britain (the part of Britain under Roman rule from about A.D. 43 to 410), and researchers speculate that it may have been used as a lamp or as a kind of animal cage for either mice or snakes. However, these possible uses are really just educated guesses, according to archaeologists.
The strange-looking vessel is on display at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology in Canada, where researchers are waiting for someone to come along who has seen a similarly holey jar and who might know the purpose of such an item.