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Photos: Ancient Rock Art Sheds Light on Israel's 'Dark Ages'

Mysterious Dolmen

This heap of stones and boulders is an ancient construction known as a dolmen.

This heap of stones and boulders is an ancient construction known as a dolmen.
(Image credit: Gonen Sharon/Tel Hai College)

Archaeologists have been studying megalithic tombs in northern Israel. They recently excavated one burial chamber with a mysterious example of rock art on its ceiling. This heap of stones and boulders is an ancient construction known as a dolmen.

[Read full story on the rock art]

Levant rocks

Dolmens are found across the Levant, but this one is notable for two reasons: its size and its rock carvings.

Dolmens are found across the Levant, but this one is notable for two reasons: its size and its rock carvings.
(Image credit: Gonen Sharon/Tel Hai College)

Dolmens are found across the Levant, but this one is notable for two reasons: its size and its rock carvings. The Levant refers to an area encompassing modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

'Dark Ages' tomb

Archaeologists discovered the tomb while studying a filed of dolmens near Shamir Heights in northern Israel.

Archaeologists discovered the tomb while studying a filed of dolmens near Shamir Heights in northern Israel.
(Image credit: Gonen Sharon/Tel Hai College)

Archaeologists discovered the tomb while studying a field of dolmens near Shamir Heights in northern Israel.

Central capstone

The central chamber is capped by a huge 50-ton boulder, that likely would have required organized manpower to put in place.

The central chamber is capped by a huge 50-ton boulder, that likely would have required organized manpower to put in place.
(Image credit: Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

The central chamber is capped by a huge 50-ton boulder, that likely would have required organized manpower to put in place.

[Read full story on the rock art]

Aerial view

The rectangular chamber at the center of the tomb was the main burial chamber.

The rectangular chamber at the center of the tomb was the main burial chamber.
(Image credit: Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

The rectangular chamber at the center of the tomb was the main burial chamber. At least three sets of human remains were found there, which suggests it was used for multiple burials over time.

Inside the tomb

A peek inside the dolmen showed that there was artwork on the ceiling.

A peek inside the dolmen showed that there was artwork on the ceiling.
(Image credit: Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

A peek inside the dolmen showed that there was artwork on the ceiling.

Rare rock art

The engravings on the dolmen's ceiling depict straight lines attached to the center of an arc.

The engravings on the dolmen's ceiling depict straight lines attached to the center of an arc.
(Image credit: Gonen Sharon/Tel Hai College)

The engravings depict straight lines attached to the center of an arc. Archaeologists haven't yet deciphered the meaning of these shapes.

3D view

A three-dimensional model allowed researchers to get a clearer look at the rock carvings.

A three-dimensional model allowed researchers to get a clearer look at the rock carvings.
(Image credit: Computerized Archaeology Laboratory of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

A three-dimensional model allowed researchers to get a clearer look at the rock carvings.

[Read full story on the rock art]

Grave goods

Colored beads were uncovered in the archaeological excavation inside the dolmen.

Colored beads were uncovered in the archaeological excavation inside the dolmen.
(Image credit: Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Colored beads were uncovered in the archaeological excavation inside the dolmen.