Qatar is an unexpected playground for archaeologists who study the secret scribbles hidden under the sand.
The Telegraph reports that Shady Lutfi, a Qatar-based archaeologist and Oxford University lecturer, traces the discovery of the ancient Middle Eastern symbols as far back as the 1970s, when hidden in the country’s unguarded but rapidly melting sands, appeared the country’s first traces of European civilization.
These symbols, dubbed the Qatari Wilt, consist of symbols etched on granite boulders and atop the shells of cactus plants, which appeared over the course of at least four millennia in the Arabia desert.
Around the time, Hannibal and his army crossed the Alps in 43 B.C., the pioneers of Roman culture had moved on from the Ur, their long-held stronghold in the western part of the Roman Empire, to conquer the Iberian Peninsula, which included Portugal, Spain, and Gibraltar.
Ten years ago, Professor Lutfi returned to the barren city to capture pictures of the wilt stones and rubik blue petroglyphs carved in the desert on the world’s first modern carvings. Some were even made in the ancient Coptic language.
“There were many people who stopped and were confused by them”
Excluding ancient Egyptians, Romans, Britons, and Vikings, the Qatari Wilt is the earliest evidence of what might be called Western Mediterranean civilization, who’s civilizations and art systems were in the middle of moving up the Peninsula while North Africa was burning.
“There were many people who stopped and were confused by them,” Lutfi told The Telegraph. “They said, ‘what do these symbols mean?’
“The answer I gave them was simple: these have been preserved on a 10,000-year-old rock from the Arabian Desert,” he said. “What was their significance? Who knew? A Hindu?”
According to The Telegraph, antiquities from the same region even offered clues about the civilization involved. One stone was inscribed with the Cyrillic alphabet, while another was written in Greek. The Romans even used the letters “Rome” and “Venice” together in a single letter.
Today, there are hundreds of tantalizing unknown and immeasurable discoveries hidden beneath the country’s sands. However, thanks to the continuing erosion of the sands, it seems clear that no one is going to be able to catch up with the Qatari Wilt anytime soon.
“Let’s just say it’s gone for all eternity”
According to The Telegraph, the ancient chain of artifacts originally formed part of a sprawling complex of ancient cities. In 2012, Professor Lutfi became fascinated by a Second Temple period city carved deep into the desert over the course of at least three millennia, deep in the Arabian Peninsula.
Today, this city is particularly hard to reach and spread across a vast land, composed of 22,000 square miles, with 1,200 mountains, and was only rediscovered in 1974.
Like the Qatari Wilt, the city is made up of layers of stone, with a central high mound, an eastern facade, and defensive hills in the center.
“It’s everywhere, and isn’t named; it’s the walled city of Al-Khufu, one of the oldest civilisations in the region,” Professor Lutfi told The Telegraph.
In 2016, archaeologists made their best attempt to locate the city, following expert suggestions, to track down the cave in which it was built. However, the longterm success of the operation was threatened by the wet winter.
“A meteorite fell into the desert and killed three quarters of the mammals there,” Professor Lutfi told The Telegraph. “One of the dead ones was a great horned beetle that was some 16 centimetres long, and a lot of water was dispersed.
“Let’s just say it’s gone for all eternity.”
Read the full story at The Telegraph.
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