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Mystery of The Wheel of Giants

The Wheel of Giants also known in Arabic as Rujm el-Hiri, or "stone heap of the wild cat," and Gilgal Refaim in Hebrew was discovered by Israeli archaeologists shortly after the 1967 Six Day War. The impressive ancient ruins, located in the Golan Heights are a wheel-like design of enormous piled rocks—an estimated 40,000 tons of black basalt—stacked into at least five concentric rings, with a central burial cairn at its center. No one knows who created the enormous stone circles some 5,000 years ago, nor why. Some experts think it might have been a nomadic civilisation that settled the area, but it would have required a tremendous support network that itinerants might not have had.

"It's an enigmatic site. We have bits of information, but not the whole picture," said Uri Berger, an expert on megalithic tombs with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Unlike the massive rocks of Stonehenge, Rujm el-Hiri is made up of much smaller stones, with a total diameter of more than 500 feet, according to Popular Archaeology. At the heart of the Wheel of Giants is a 15-foot-high burial mound; although who was buried there -- and whatever he or she was buried with -- were taken by tomb robbers long ago.

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Shards of pottery and flint tools were found in various excavations to help date the site, Berger said. Scholars generally agree that construction started as early as 3,500 BC and other parts may have been added to over the next two thousand years.

A 2010 report in Biblical Archaeology Review said the circles may have been used as "an ancient calendrical device that indicated the arrival of the summer solstice and other astronomical events."

The same report said the tomb may have been added as much as 2,000 years after the circles were created.

A 2011 theory suggests the circle and burial mound were built at the same time and used for a version of "sky burials."

The bodies of the deceased would be placed at the top of the mound at the center for vultures to pick clean, and then the bones could be placed into ossuaries, according to the theory published in Biblical Archaeology Review by Dr. Rami Arav.


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