An aerial view of the monumental structures in the Saudi Arabian desert. Image Credit: Oxford University.

Ancient Blueprints of Megastructures Unearthed: The Oldest in Human History

Archaeologists discover 7,000 to 8,000-year-old engravings of desert kites, an extraordinary feat in human intelligence and spatial awareness. These are the oldest known blueprints for the construction of "mega structures" ever found.


A remarkable archaeological find has unveiled the oldest known scale plans of human-made mega structures. The engravings, dating back 7,000 to 8,000 years, represent desert kites—large structures utilized for animal trapping. This significant discovery, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 17, 2023, sheds light on human cognitive evolution and the conception and construction of these unique structures.

Desert Kites: Trapping Innovation of the Past

First discovered by air in the 1920s, desert kites are elaborate archaeological formations featuring walls up to 5km long converging in an enclosure and surrounded by pits for animal trapping. Their complete visualization from the ground is a complex task, highlighting the importance of these newly discovered plans.

Blueprints of Mega Structures: Markers of Ancient Architectural Brilliance

Rémy Crassard of CNRS, Université Lyon, along with his team, reveals two kite engravings in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The first, found near the Jibal al-Khasabiyeh area in Jordan, home to eight kites, is a stone carving created using stone tools, measuring 80 cm long and 32 cm wide and dating back around 7,000 years.


A Discover in Saudi Arabia: Precision in Stone

In Saudi Arabia, at Zebel az-Zilliyat, two sets of kites situated 3.5km apart can be observed. An impressively large, to-scale engraving, 382 cm long and 235 cm wide, was unearthed there. Rather than being carved, the image was pecked, potentially using hand picks, dating approximately 8,000 years ago.

Decoding the Mega Structures: Blueprints in Detail

The necessity for these plans emerges from the kites’ design complexity, which is impossible to grasp from the ground level fully. Until now, indications of large structure plans appeared only in rough drafts, contrasting with the newfound precision.

A Milestone in Human Intelligence

Even though human structures have long modified natural spaces, these examples stand as the oldest known scaled plans in human history, predating the literate civilizations of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Transposing large spaces onto small, two-dimensional surfaces signifies a milestone in human cognitive development.


“The oldest known plans to scale in human history are reported in our study. The engravings, dated between 8,000 and 9,000 years old, were discovered in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They depict nearby desert kites that were humanmade mega structures used to trap wild animals,” the researchers wrote in the study.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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