More than 1000 ancient rectangular structures have been discovered on the territory of north-west Saudi Arabia. Scientists do not have a definitive explanation for the origin of the so-called mustatils but suggest that they could have been the works of a prehistoric Arabian cult that lived more than 7000 years ago.
10 things you need to know about the mysterious mustatils of the Arabian cult
1. Scientists have known about these structures since the 70s but nobody had studied them until recently. Scientists used helicopters to fly over the territory of north-west Saudi Arabia and found that there were many more stone structures than previously thought.
2. Researchers named the monuments mustatils, after the Arabic word for rectangle. Obviously, most have rectangular shapes and platforms on each side.
3. To date, scientists have discovered more than 1000 mustatils which is about twice more than previously thought. You can see their approximate locations on the small map illustration below.
4. Few have been ground-surveyed and excavated, but scientists believe that they functioned as ritual structures which would make them the first such monuments in history.
5. Experts discovered cattle remains during one of the excavations and sent samples for radiocarbon dating. Results showed that the skulls were over 7000 years old.
6. It can be assumed that each mustatil was built for a specific ritual and was used once. The presense of animal remains suggests that the ancient Arabian cult presented offerings to the gods.
7. It can also be assumed that each mustatil was created for a single person or a single social group, as they were often found in groups of 2 to 19.
8. Aerial photographs to not really show the true size of the mustatils. According to researchers, some reached 600 meters in lenght which is unheardof for ancient monuments.
9. All were made of piles of sandstone and once again, these blocks are much more massive than we understand from images. Apparently, some weigh more than 500 kilograms each. Once again, we meet with one of the greatest ancient mysteries – how did people move such heavy stones and lift them for construction.
10. All mustatils are low in height. It is obvious that these structures did not have the purpose to keep anything from getting in or getting out. These monuments were designed to mark a certain area and isolate it.
WIth this said, there is not much else that is known about the mustatils or the Arabian cult that created them at this point. It took 50 years for scientists to start excavating them and who knows how long it will take before we get a more complete story.
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• Jarus, O. (2021, April 30). Mysterious 7,000-year-old stone structures may be part of prehistoric cattle cult.
• Sawal, I. (2021, April 30). Arabian cult may have BUILT 1000 MONUMENTS older than stonehenge.
• Thomas, H., Kennedy, M., Dalton, M., McMahon, J., Boyer, D., & Repper, R. (2021, April 30). The mustatils: Cult And monumentality in Neolithic North-western Arabia: Antiquity.