Researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel-Hai College have found ancient rock art that was created by a mysterious culture.
Around Golan Heights and the Galilee area in Israel, several rock structures have been discovered that date back thousands of years. However, very little information is known about who created these structures that are called dolmens which are giant megalithic burial tombs with a huge flat stone that is laid on top of the ones that are upright. Thousands of these megalithic structures were constructed in the northern part of Israel and the wider region between 4,000 to 4,500 years ago during the Intermediate Bronze Era.
The rock art that the researchers discovered on four dolmens included geometric shapes, animals, and a human face. (A picture and a video can be seen here.) Professor Gonen Sharon, who is the head of the M.A. Program in Galilee Studies at Tel-Hai and who co-authored the paper, explained this further, “Several years ago, a panel of rock art engravings was discovered on the inner wall of a huge dolmen in a field surrounding Kibbutz Shamir.”
In fact, the dolmen that was found near Kibbutz Shamir is the biggest one that has ever been found in the Middle East. Another interesting fact is that 14 tridents (three-pronged spears) were carved into the stone of its ceiling.
Sharon went on to say, “This was the first time rock art was documented in the context of dolmens in the Middle East. Following this discovery, we started a research project to locate and document dolmen art throughout the Land of Israel. We surveyed dozens of dolmens in Upper Galilee and the Golan in an attempt to uncover the world of this mysterious culture that existed more than 4000 years ago, and left behind only dolmens as evidence of their rich culture.”
A dolmen that was found in the Yehudiya Nature Reserve contained pictures of seven horned animals that were drawn on the walls of the burial chamber. Three of the animals were facing towards the east and three were facing west. Two of the animals – most likely a male and a female – were directly facing each other. The seventh horned animal was drawn in the inside part of one of the panels and was facing the other six animals. “It is clear that the way they are positioned meant something to the artist,” stated Uri Berger who is the other co-author of the paper.
The researchers are optimistic that the geometric shapes, animals, and human face drawings that were discovered in Kiryat Shmona will aid them in finding out more information on the mysterious culture that created them.
Berger finished off by stating, “To date, many dolmens were identified in Israel and in neighboring countries, but we knew almost nothing about the civilization of these super-builders beyond the remains of the enormous structures they left behind as evidence of their existence in the region.” “The engravings in the rock open a window, for the first time, to the culture behind the construction of these dolmens.”