MYSTERIOUS DESERT LINES WERE ANIMAL TRAPS
Mysterious lines on the deserts of the Near East are massive ancient hunting tools, made up of low stone walls.
- A series of low, long walls are cleverly constructed traps that used the landscape.
- Gazelle, ibexes, wild asses and other large herding animals were the targets.
- No one is sure why the kites were abandoned.
British RAF pilots in the early 20th century were the first to spot the strange kite-like lines on the deserts of Israel, Jordan and Egypt from the air and wonder about their origins. The lines are low, stone walls, usually found as angled pairs, that begin far apart and converge at circular pits. In some places in Jordan the lines formed chains up to 40 miles long.
Were they made by some weird kind of fault? Ancient astronauts?
A new study of 16 of what are called desert kites in the eastern Sinai Desert confirms what many researchers have long suspected: The walls form large funnels to direct gazelle and other large game animals into killing pits. What's more, the kites are between 2,300 and 2,400-years-old, were abandoned about 2,200 years ago and are just the right size to have worked on local gazelles and other hooved game.
SLIDE SHOW: Want a closer look at these desert kites? Click here to find out exactly how ancient hunters rounded up their prey.
"The research shows that the construction of the kite was actually more sophisticated than it seemed before, their use was more diverse than we thought, and the ancients' knowledge of animal ethology was deeper and more intimate than one would think," said Uzi Avner of Ben-Gurion University-Eilat, in Israel.
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