Archaeologists from the University of Western Australia in Perth recently published a study in Cambridge University Press. This study focuses on “Mustatils,” an Arabic term meaning rectangle and denoting mysterious monumental stone structures made at the AlUla and Khaybar sites in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
According to experts, these strange structures were built in the 6th century BC, making them older than Stonehenge or the pyramids of Egypt. Note that Mustatils has been known to exist since the 1970s. Just recently, a team of scientists decided to launch a large-scale archaeological operation across large areas of the region to discover and study all of the Mustatils present.
Over 1,000 mustaches have been discovered
To this end, the researchers conducted soil and air research. Note that the Mustatils are characterized by long walls of sandstone and slate in the shape of a rectangle, the length of which varies between 20 and 620 meters. During their flight search by helicopter, the researchers were able to photograph 350 Mustatils. A remote sensing search using satellite imagery found 641 of them and a ground search counted approximately forty Mustatils.
The Kingdoms Institute, a global archaeological research and conservation center commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla, has registered more than 1,000 Mustatils, double the number of officials previously counted.
Geographical place of discovery. Photo credit: cambridge.org
The Mustatils would be the religious and sacrificial structures of Arabia?
However, the question arises: what could these structures be used for? According to Hugh Thomas, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia, “Humans may have created these structures in the Neolithic for ritual purposes that involved sacrificing wildlife and domestic animals to one or more people. Unknown deities ”.
Geographical positioning of the different Mustatils. Photo credit: AAKSAU and Royal Commission for AlUla.
Scientists excavated one of these structures and found undecorated standing stones, around which were horns, bones of cattle, sheep, goats and gazelles arranged as offerings in circular cells. Stone brings us knowledge of the arts. Scientists rule out the hypothesis that these cells could have served as enclosures for animals because the walls were low and no human burial was found nearby.
These structures would also presuppose the existence of an important social organization
Radiocarbon dating of a bovine horn and tooth has also shown researchers that they date from the 6th millennium BC. Originate from. It may well be that these structures are the first evidence of sacred activity in the Neolithic in the Arabian desert.
But by whom? Hugh Thomas replied that “it is very likely that large communities or groups of people came together” to build the Mmustatils, “because of the monumental size of some of these buildings,” which required considerable efforts. “It suggests a significant social organization and a common goal or belief,” he adds.
In any case, said the Acting Director of Museums and Exhibitions of the Royal Commission for AlUla, Dr. Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani, in a statement that “the discoveries made on Mustatils represent a great advance in our perception and understanding of societies, first stage of Saudi ambitions in archaeological research”.