The center of the celebration was found at an ancient camp site next to a structure called the Desert Dragon for trapping wild ungulates.
These structures consisted of two or more long stone walls running in one direction, as Neolithic people rounded up trapped deer in their place. They got their name from the fact that their shape in aerial view resembles baby dragons.
Most desert dragons are found in Transjordan, but they are also found elsewhere in the deserts of the Middle East.
Jordanian archaeologist Wael Abu Azizah, co-head of the excavation project, described the site as unique, mainly because it has held up in exceptionally good condition.
“Nine thousand years and almost everything is untouched”
Inside the sanctuary were found two standing stones engraved with human-like figures. Next to one of the stone pillars was found a depiction of a “desert dragon”, an altar, a fire pit, seashells, and a scale model of a deer trap.
According to the researchers, the sanctuary “sheds an entirely new light on the symbolism, artistic expression, and spiritual culture of the hitherto unknown Neolithic inhabitants.”
The researchers said that the site’s proximity to the deer trap indicates that its inhabitants specialize in hunting, and that the trap was “the center of their cultural, economic and even symbolic world in this remote area.”
The ancient ceremonial center was excavated by researchers at Al Hussein Bin Talal University in Jordan and the French Institute of the Middle East in last year’s excavations.
Opening photo: Krugloff / Getty Images
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