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In the 1920s, pilots of the Royal Air Force flying over the deserts of Israel, Jordan and Egypt saw strange line shapes in the ground that they named “Desert Kites” because their outlines, as seen from the air, reminded them of airborne kites. It was the first time the white men had seen these mysterious figures, although the local Bedouin knew them for thousands of years. They called them “Works of the Old Men”. Since the discovery, thousands of desert kites have been identified distributed throughout the Arabian and Sinai peninsulas and as far northward as southeastern Turkey.

Desert kites consist of two low dry-stone walls, of variable thickness and height, that begin far apart and gradually move closer to create a V or funnel shape. The narrow opening at the end of the funnel leads to a circular enclosure or a pit. The enclosure can range from a few meters to a hundred meters in diameter and the walls may extend for hundreds of meters and even several kilometers. Their shape and archeological evidence suggest that these extensive stone structures may have functioned as game traps, designed to capture and kill large numbers of wild animals.

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Remains of an ancient desert kite between As Safawi and Qasr Burqu, Mafraq, Jordan. Photo credit

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