Ido Wachtel, a Ph.D. archaeology student at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently made an exciting discovery. A large structure in Israel, previously thought to be a wall, is actually a giant stone monument, akin to the Stonehenge monument in England. However, this monument, found in the Upper Galilee, a region in northern Israel, is about 5,000 years old, making it older than the Stonehenge.
This figure has always existed in modern history, but no one properly identified it as a monument until now. Earlier archaeologists thought it might be part of a wall, but Wachtel dismissed that theory when he realized that the structure was not near any town at the time it was built.
Wachtel believes that the structure may have served to separate the borders of an ancient town. The structure is about a day's walk away from the city of Bet Yerah, or House of the Moon, which can also be translated as House of the Moon God. "Yerah" means moon in Hebrew, but was also the name of the Semitic people's ancient moon god. The town might date back as far as 3500 BCE (before the common era). It is unclear whether the town was named Bet Yerah at the time this structure was erected. The name Bet Yerah was only recorded 1,500 years ago, but this town may be at least 5,000 years old.
If the stone structure served to define the borders of Bet Yerah, it would serve as an impressive sign of strength. It might also have a correlation to the moon the town was named after. The moon was very significant to the culture in that region. Ancient Semitic peoples calculated time based on a lunar calendar. The stone figure is shaped like a crescent moon. It is an imposing size, about 500 feet long, 70 feet wide, and it stands about 20 feet tall (it may have been higher once).
"The estimation of working days invested in the construction [of] the site is between 35,000 days in the lower estimate [and] 50,000 in the higher," Wachtel said.
Wachtel estimates that at least 200 workers spent at least five months working on this tower. That's a lot of effort, especially since most people at this time needed to spend much of their time tending crops to stay alive. Clearly, this structure meant a lot to the people who lived here.