More than 2,000 year-old Giant Monument is discovered in the heart of ancient Jordanian city of Petra

Despite being a hub of tourists, the monument has been hidden from common sight since explorer Johann Burckhardt surveyed the area in 1812

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A facade at Petra, where a new monumental structure has been found at the city built by Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago. Image source: Martin Keene/PA
  • The gigantic monument captured by aerial drone photography, consists of a 56-by-49-meter platform that encloses a slightly smaller platform originally paved with flagstones
  • The enormous Petra Archaeological Park covers an area of 264 square kilometres
  • The presence of pottery, relics and figurines hint its origins as the early 2nd century under the Arabian tribes

A massive structure, roughly about an Olympic-size swimming pool and twice as wide has been discovered 800 metres south of the ancient Jordanian city of Petra.

According to a study published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research by archaeologists Sarah Parcak and Christopher Tuttle, the newly revealed platform-like structure covers an area of 184-by-164 foot, enclosing a slightly smaller monument lined by flagstones.

“I’m sure that over the course of two centuries of research [in Petra], someone had to know [this site] was there, but it’s never been systematically studied or written up,” said Tuttle, executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers.

Once the capital of the Arabian tribe Nabataeans, the city was founded around the 2nd century B.C and was abandoned in the 7th century as the Byzantine period neared its end. A World Heritage Site, the historic city is flocked by thousands of tourists every year due to its richness of iconic structures hewn from red sandstone. The enormous Petra Archaeological Park covers an area of 264 square kilometres, landscaped by huge columns and platforms dating back to the Nabataean period.

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Despite being a hub of tourists, the monument has been hidden from common sight since explorer Johann Burckhardt surveyed the area in 1812. Petra Monastery and other structures have been open to public since long, but the newly revealed structure astonished beyond measure due to its discovery after centuries of Petra being in limelight.

 Zoomed-in UAV image of platform. Photograph: I LaBianca
Zoomed-in UAV image of platform. Photograph: I LaBianca

The gigantic monument captured by aerial drone photography, consists of a 56-by-49-meter platform that encloses a slightly smaller platform originally paved with flagstones. The east side of the interior platform is lined with a row of columns that once spanned across a monumental staircase. Atop the interior platform is an 8.5-by-8.5-meter building, opening to the east. The platform or “display area” houses several small buildings, consisting of a facade, one like a “ceremonial, dedicated, display area.”

“The enormous platform has no known parallels to any other structure in Petra,” writes National Geographic in reference to the latest discovery at Petra.

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While the site remains to be excavated in detail, the presence of pottery, relics and figurines hint its origins as the early 2nd century under the Arabian tribes. High resolution satellite imagery and ground surveys are being held to locate more factual data about the structure, according to Parcak, a National Geographic fellow.

“I’ve worked in Petra for 20 years, and I knew that something was there, but it’s certainly legitimate to call this a discovery,” said Tuttle.

-by Maariyah Siddiquee, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Some great discovery! This can help us know more about the lifestyle of the people from the 2nd century