Space Scan Finds 'New' Platform at Petra

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June 10, 2016

Space-age technology has revealed a large structure under the sands near the famous monument at Petra.

The Treasury Building at Jordan's Petra is much more well-known in both archaeological circles and the public consciousness. However, recent satellite imagery showed what a team of archaeologists have identified as a three-level platform.

The bottom level of the platform measures 184 feet by 161 feet. One level up is a smaller platform paved with flagstones and sporting one side with columns and another side with a large staircase. On the top level is a 28-foot-by-28-foot platform and can be accessed via the staircase.

One of the archaeologists making the announcement, Council of American Overseas Research Centers Executive Director Christopher Tuttle, has worked at the Petra site for more than a dozen years. He had found hints of the platform, but only evidence from scans initiated by space archaeologist Sarah Parcak, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, showed the true extent of the structure, which is near the city center.

An oddity identified by the archaeologists was that the staircase descended to the east and, thus, did not face the city center, unlike other sites thus found.

Among the rest of the announcement was a detailing of pottery found near the platform that archaeologists suggested dated to about 150 B.C., about the time that Petra was at its peak. Specifically, the pottery was identified as done by the Nabateans, who lived in what is now southern Jordan and who carved the Treasury Building and other famous Petra landmarks as far back as the Fourth Century B.C.

Research appeared in the bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

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