A rare megalithic structure, dating back 4,000 years, has been discovered at the Shamir Dolmen Field on the western foothills of the Golan Heights reports Sci-News. The newly-discovered megalithic stone structure is a unique, monumental, multi-chambered dolmen: a central chamber roofed by a gigantic engraved capstone and surrounded by a giant tumulus (stone heap) into which at least four additional sub-chambers were built.

First reported Multi-Dolmen or multi-chamber Dolmen in Levant

This is the first reported complex ‘multi-dolmen’ in the Levant and one of the largest dolmens ever reported from the region, according to a team of archaeologists led by Tel Hai College Professor Gonen Sharon. Prof. Sharon and colleagues explained:

“The dolmen tumulus, built around a central chamber, is 20 m in diameter. The total weight of the basalt stones used is estimated at 400 tons. The four sub-chambers built into the tumulus are each medium-sized (1 x 3 m) and elongated, and covered by one to three massive basalt capstones.”

“In the upper part of the tumulus is the central chamber. The chamber is rectangular, 3 m long by 2 m wide, and the ceiling is 1.7 m above the present day surface prior to excavation. Topping the central chamber of the dolmen is a single giant, basalt capstone. The stone, irregular in shape, measures over 4 m in length, 3.5 m in width and more than 1.2 m in thickness, with an estimated weight of over 50 tons.”

The archaeologists also discovered rock art engravings on the ceiling of the central chamber. Team member Dr. Uri Berger, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority said:

“This is the first art ever documented in a dolmen in the Middle East. The ceiling panel, located at the southeast quarter of the chamber ceiling, includes 14 clearly identified schematic, engraved elements. The forms represent variations on a single motif, comprising a vertical line with a downturned arc attached to its upper part.”

“The length of the central line differs between elements as does the curvature of the arc. The average size of the elements is about 25 cm. The forms were made by pecking into the face of the basalt rock. The inner surface of the engraved lines is relatively uniform and could have been made by chisel or hammer/axe either of metal (bronze) or stone such as flint.”

The newly-discovered multi-chamber dolmen is just one of more than 400 huge stone structures dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age (2350-2000 BC) that are located in the Shamir Dolmen Field.

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