Jun 26, 2012

An Ancient Mystery Tops an Ancient Mystery in Syria

Wars are real archaeology blockers. Sometimes I think it's by design -- a deliberate attempt at some level of consciousness to keep humanity from its own secrets. The latest distraction from discovery is in Syria. This one involves something they're calling "Syria's Stonehenge" and there is much to recommend it as a site of interest.

Fifty miles north of Damascus is an ancient monastery, which is a fascinating site all on its own. But in 2009, archaeologist Robert Mason of the Royal Ontario Museum discovered remnants of a much older monument nearby.

The monastery itself, also called the Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, was built in the late 4th or early 5th century, he said, and contains several frescoes from the 11th and 12th century depicting Christian saints and Judgment Day. He told the audience at Harvard that he believes it was originally a Roman watchtower, partially destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt.

But the desert puzzle is much older.

Bits of tools Mason found nearby suggest the mystery he discovered in the desert is much older than the monastery. It may date to the Neolithic Period or early Bronze Age, 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Gazette said.

So, Mason found ancient masonry tools. He also found remnants of stone circles, lines, and some evidence of tombs. If, indeed, this is a prehistoric sacred site, it speaks to that mysterious habit the ancients had of building sacred sites on top of sacred sites, as if the location on the earth itself holds some deeper significance.

But for now, as the military conflagration in Syria grows, we'll just have to take a wait and see attitude.

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