Friday, June 10, 2016

New monumental architecture discovered at Petra

NABATAEAN (NABATEAN) WATCH: Massive New Monument Found in Petra.
Satellites and drones helped reveal huge ceremonial platform near the ancient city’s center
(Kristin Romey, National Geographic).
The newly revealed structure consists of a 184-by-161-foot (about 56-by-49-meter) platform that encloses a slightly smaller platform originally paved with flagstones. The east side of the interior platform had been lined with a row of columns that once crowned a monumental staircase.

A small 28-by-28-foot (8.5-by-8.5-meter) building was centered north-south atop the interior platform and opened to the east, facing the staircase.

This enormous open platform, topped with a relatively small building and approached by a monumental facade, has no known parallels to any other structure in Petra. It most likely had a public, ceremonial function, which may make it the second largest elevated, dedicated display area yet known in Petra after the Monastery.

This new discovery may be a unique public monument from the city's early years.
While the monument has not been excavated, the presence of surface pottery dating from the mid-second century B.C. suggests that construction of the structure began during the Nabataeans' initial public building program.
Hard to believe the structure was missed until now, but it took the satellite observation of Professor Sarah Parcak and her colleague to bring it to our notice:
Archaeologists Sarah Parcak, a National Geographic fellow, and Christopher Tuttle, executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, used high-resolution satellite imagery followed by aerial drone photography and ground surveys to locate and document the structure.
More on Professor Parcak's work is here and here. Cross-file under Technology Watch. And background on the Nabateans and Petra is here and here with many links.