Huge Structure in Israel Older Than Pyramids

The crescent-shaped stone pile may once have been a border marker

The pyramids of Giza were constructed between 2575 and 2465 BC. The monument in Israel dates to between 3050 and 2650 BC. Jose Fuste Raga/Corbis

An unassuming crescent of stones perched in the hills near the Sea of Galilee may be a massive 5,000 year old monument, reports LiveScience.

The monument is almost 500 feet long, 66 feet wide and 23 feet tall and was likely built before the pyramids. The new conclusions about the nature of the stone structure were part of a masters thesis by archaeology doctoral student Ido Wachtel, who presented his findings at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East meeting earlier this summer.

Wachtel found that, contrary to earlier assumptions, the structure was too far away from the nearest settlement to be a city wall and suggested that instead it may have been used to mark the boundary of a territory.

As LiveScience reports, building a structure of that scale would have been a massive undertaking:

"The estimation of working days invested in the construction [of] the site is between 35,000 days in the lower estimate [and] 50,000 in the higher," Wachtel said in the email.

If the lower estimate is correct, it means a team of 200 ancient workers would have needed more than five months to construct the monument, a task that would be difficult for people who depended on crops for their livelihood. "We need to remember that people were [obligated] most of the year to agriculture," Wachtel said.

Other large stone structures dating to roughly the same time period have been found nearby, including one that is now located under the Sea of Galilee. The town in closest proximity to the structures was a fortified settlement now referred to as Tel Bet Yerah. The settlement was a trade hub of the Early Bronze Age and is still the site of archaeological investigations.

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