Dolmen: 4,000-Year-Old Table-Like Stone Structure Unearthed In The Upper Galilee

First Posted: Mar 06, 2017 03:50 AM EST

Researchers discovered a 4,000-year-old table-like stone structure referred to as dolmen in the Upper Galilee. The dolmen is engraved with mysterious artistic decorations in its ceiling.

The discovery was led by archaeologists from Tel Hai College, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority. It was first found by Professor Gonen Sharon of Tel Hai College's Galilee Studies Program. Prof. Sharon entered the large dolmen and he was astonished to see rock drawings inscribed at its ceiling.

The Antiquities Authority said that it is just one of more than 400 huge stone structures dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age (over 4,000 years ago) that are located in the dolmen field around Kibbutz Shamir. The dolmen was found inside a large chamber that measures 2 by 3 meters and covered by a big stone weighing about 50 tons. The dolmen is about 20 meters in diameter and its stones approximately weigh a minimum of 400 tons. There are also four smaller dolmens at the foot of the decorated dolmen inside the stone heap, according to Breaking Israel News.

Uri Berger, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority and one of the partners in the study, said the discovery is the first art ever documented in a dolmen in the Middle East. He further said that the engraved shapes depict a straight line going to the center of an arc. He added that about 15 such engravings were documented on the ceiling of the dolmen, spread out in a kind of arc along the ceiling. "No parallel exist for these shapes in the engraved rock drawings of the Middle East and their significance remains a mystery," Berger said.

dolmen is a single-chamber megalithic tomb that consists of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a big flat horizontal capstone or also referred as "table." It is mysterious and unclear why, who, when and whom the earliest dolmens were made. They are said to be deemed as tombs or burial chambers. On the other hand, there is no clear evidence about this.

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