Lonely Planet Writer

Enormous sunken monument found in Petra by "space archaeologists"

Archaeologists have found a literal sunken treasure in the sands of Petra in Jordan. 

The Petra Treasury in Jordan is one of the country's top tourist destination, but the number of visitors is dwindling as conflicts continue in the Middle East.
The Petra Treasury in Jordan is one of the country’s top tourist destination, but the number of visitors is dwindling as conflicts continue in the Middle East. Image by Colin Tsoi / CC BY 2.0

Using satellite imagery of the surrounding area revealed a massive platform of about 184ft by 161ft, the size of about two Olympic swimming pools. Further satellite imaging of the site allowed archaeologists to conclude that the structure lying buried in the sand was an interior platform made from flagstones and lined with columns, that also contained a staircase. Pottery found in the area surrounding the monument suggested that it is likely to be about 2,150 years old.

Archaeologists Christopher Tuttle and Sarah Parcak employed what is known as “space archaeology” to make the discovery and both archaeologists estimate that it is going to yield some amazing archaeological discoveries around the world in the years to come. The two archaeologists discussed their findings which were published by Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. “This monumental platform has no parallels at Petra or in its hinterlands at present.” There is nothing as large as this structure in Petra.

Petra, Jordan.
Petra, Jordan. Image by Daniel Duce / CC BY 2.0

Petra is one of the most visited sights in the Middle East, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. In their paper Tuttle and Parcak put forward the exciting idea that “significant structures within range of its central city remain to be discovered.”