News of archaeological discoveries dated to the times of the Bible are fairly common in Israel, but new research about a massive stone structure found in northern Israel suggests a far older find.
An Israeli researcher believes that a 5,000-year-old stone structure was possibly used to designate ancient property rights. If the dating is accurate, the crescent-shaped structure would be older than the Egyptian pyramids and parts of Stonehenge.
Live Science reported that the structure is located eight miles from the Sea of Galilee and is “massive” in proportion, with a length of 492 feet, a width of 66 feet and a height of 23 feet.
Pottery found at the site suggests it was constructed between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C.
Archaeologists earlier believed the monument had been a city wall; however, Ido Wachtel, a PhD student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found that there was no evidence to suggest a city once stood at the site and suggested the structure was used to mark the property rights of locals.
"The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources by a local rural or pastoral population," Wachtel wrote for the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, quoted by Live Science.
Wachtel told Live Science that the crescent shape might have been associated with the Mesopotamian moon god, Sin.
Notably, the town of Bet Yerah – which in Hebrew means “House of the Moon” – is located a day’s walk from the structure and thus the moon-shaped monument may have marked the outer edges of the settlement.
It is unknown when exactly Bet Yerah was founded, though Live Science quoted a 2012 article in which researchers noted that the name of the town appeared in a 1,500-year-old Jewish text.