Scientists Use Google Earth to Understand Mysterious Giant Wheels

One of the wonderful results of networked intelligence is the revelation of the already-there. Geoglyphs. Could there be anything more there than a work of art built out of or incised into the earth itself? But the earth, she is big, and you can’t get your mind around the whole of it and apprehend its multitudinous parts, or even the small patterns they form. Well, you couldn’t, but now you can.

Thousands of geoglyph “wheels,” almost completely unknown to the public, are now part of public knowledge thanks to advances in technology, both photographic and social. These wheels are scattered across the deserts of Jordan and adjacent countries.

Professor David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia has been using Google Earth and aerial photography to study the structures, which were first reported in 1927 by British Royal Air Force fliers who were making mail runs over the area.

According to CBS News:

“(T)hese stone structures have a wide variety of designs, with a common one being a circle with spokes radiating inside. Researchers believe that they date back to antiquity, at least 2,000 years ago. They are often found on lava fields and range from 82 feet to 230 feet (25 meters to 70 meters) across.”

“(W)heels form part of a variety of stone landscapes. These include kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals); pendants (lines of stone cairns that run from burials); and walls, mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet and have no apparent practical use.

You can look at a gallery of the wheels on LiveScience and a much larger gallery of related structures on Flickr.

Other sources: A Blog About History | photos via LiveScience from Flickr : Image 1: Copyright APAAME_20090928_RHB-0120, Photographed by Robert H. Bewley; Image 2: Drawn by Stafford Smith, APAAME; Image 3: Copyright APAAME_20080925_DLK-0308, Photographed by David L. Kennedy

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