The ard, ard plough, or scratch plough is a simple light plough without a mouldboard. It is symmetrical on either side of its line of draft and is fitted with a symmetrical share that traces a shallow furrow but does not invert the soil, it began to be replaced in most of Europe by the carruca turnplough from the 7th century. In its simplest form it resembles a hoe, consisting of a draft-pole pierced with a nearly vertical, spiked head, dragged through the soil by draft animals and rarely by people; the ard-head is at one end a stilt for steering and at the other a share which gouges the surface ground. More sophisticated models have a composite pole, where the section attached to the head is called the draft-beam, the share may be made of stone or iron; some have two separate stilts for handles. The share comes in two basic forms: a socket share slipped over the nose of the ard-head. Additionally, a slender protruding chisel can be fitted over the top of the mainshare. Rather than cutting and turning the soil to produce ridged furrows, the ard breaks up a narrow strip of soil and cuts a shallow furrow, leaving intervening strips undisturbed.
The ard is not suited for clearing new land, so grass and undergrowth are removed with hoes or mattocks. Cross-ploughing is necessary to break the soil up better, where the soil is tilled twice at right angles to the original direction; this results in square or diamond-shaped fields and is effective at clearing annual weeds. The ard's shallow furrows are ideal for most cereals, if the seed is sown broadcast, the ard can be used to cover the seed in rows. In fact, the ard may have been invented in the Near East to cover seed rather than till; that would explain. The ard is most useful on light soils such as loams or sands, or in mountain fields where the soil is thin, can be safely used in areas where deep ploughing would turn up hardpan or would cause salination or erosion. Ards may be drawn by oxen, water buffalo, camels, or other animals. Ards come in a number of varieties. Based on use, there are two kinds: the tilth ard, for cutting furrows in cleared land, the rip ard, or sod buster, which has a hooked share that gouges deeper into the soil and more clears virgin or fallow land.
The two were in early times used in conjunction with each other. Third is the seed drill ard, used in Mesopotamia, which added a funnel for dropping seed in the furrows as the ard cut them; the earliest and most basic tilth ards are the two-piece models: bow ard, made of a bow-shaped draft-pole pierced by a spear-like head developing a composite body with a separate head and stilt inserted in the pole. The bow ard is the weaker and earlier of the two, it is used for shallow tillage with a tang share, in dry, stony soils. It is restricted to the Mediterranean, Ethiopia and eastern India and Sumatra; the more widespread body ard and heavier for deeper tillage has a socket share, sometimes laterally extended or has serrated wings for better mixing of soil and cutting of weeds. It had a short portion of the body, first made to slide on the furrow bottom and developed into a horizontal body; the body ard dominates in Portugal, western Spain, the Balkans, Sri Lanka, Thailand and most of Latin America.
The bow ard favored the development of a long horizontal sole body sliding on the ground. This led to the sole ard, first attested in Bronze Age Cyprus, being single-handled and consisting of a flat sole into which were set the draft-pole and stilt, meaning there were three separate pieces, their use in Ancient Greek agriculture was described by Hesiod. In northern Europe the single-handled crook ard was favored, consisting of a stilt inserted into a pole with a crook-shaft, i.e. the pole had a curved shape and had a natural crook tip that served as a share. Variations of the sole ard come in two types: the triangular and quadrangular ards; the triangular ard has a horizontal sole body holding the beam and stilt which cross each other, forming a triangle at the base. The quandrangular ard has a horizontal sole body connected to a straight, nearly parallel beam by a stilt and a brace. Evidence of its use in prehistory is sometimes found at archaeological sites where the long, shallow scratches it makes can be seen cutting into the subsoil.
The ard first appears in the mid-Neolithic and is related to the domestication of cattle. It spread with animal traction in general across the cereal-growing cultures of the Neolithic Old World, its exact point of origin is unknown, but it spread throughout West Asia, South Asia and Europe in the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic. Evidence appears in the Near East in the 6th millennium BC. Iron versions appeared c. 2300 BC both in 3rd-dynasty Egypt. In Europe, the earliest known wooden ard dates from around 2300-2000 BC, but the earliest scratch marks date from 3500-3000 BC. All of these were bow ards depicted in the rock drawings of Bohuslän, Fontanalba, France; the first bow ards were adapted from hoes and like instruments a
Pottery is the process of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include earthenware and porcelain; the place where such wares are made by a potter is called a pottery. The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials, is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical and refractory products." In archaeology of ancient and prehistoric periods, "pottery" means vessels only, figures etc. of the same material are called "terracottas". Clay as a part of the materials used is required by some definitions of pottery, but this is dubious. Pottery is one of the oldest human inventions, originating before the Neolithic period, with ceramic objects like the Gravettian culture Venus of Dolní Věstonice figurine discovered in the Czech Republic dating back to 29,000–25,000 BC, pottery vessels that were discovered in Jiangxi, which date back to 18,000 BC.
Early Neolithic pottery artefacts have been found in places such as Jōmon Japan, the Russian Far East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Pottery is made by forming a ceramic body into objects of a desired shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln and induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing the strength and solidity of the object's shape. Much pottery is purely utilitarian, but much can be regarded as ceramic art. A clay body can be decorated after firing. Clay-based pottery can divided in three main groups: earthenware and porcelain; these require more specific clay material, higher firing temperatures. All three are made for different purposes. All may be decorated by various techniques. In many examples the group a piece belongs to is visually apparent, but this is not always the case; the fritware of the Islamic world does not use clay, so technically falls outside these groups. Historic pottery of all these types is grouped as either "fine" wares expensive and well-made, following the aesthetic taste of the culture concerned, or alternatively "coarse", "popular" "folk" or "village" wares undecorated, or so, less well-made.
All the earliest forms of pottery were made from clays that were fired at low temperatures in pit-fires or in open bonfires. They were hand undecorated. Earthenware can be fired as low as 600°C, is fired below 1200°C; because unglazed biscuit earthenware is porous, it has limited utility for the storage of liquids, eating off. However, earthenware has a continuous history from the Neolithic period to today, it can be made from a wide variety of clays, some of which fire to a buff, brown or black colour, with iron in the constituent minerals resulting in a reddish-brown. Reddish coloured varieties are called terracotta when unglazed or used for sculpture; the development of ceramic glaze which makes it impermeable makes it a popular and practical form of pottery. The addition of decoration has evolved throughout its history. Stoneware is pottery, fired in a kiln at a high temperature, from about 1,100°C to 1,200°C, is stronger and non-porous to liquids; the Chinese, who developed stoneware early on, classify this together with porcelain as high-fired wares.
In contrast, stoneware could only be produced in Europe from the late Middle Ages, as European kilns were less efficient, the right sorts of clay less common. It remained a speciality of Germany until the Renaissance. Stoneware is tough and practical, much of it has always been utilitarian, for the kitchen or storage rather than the table, but "fine" stoneware has been important in China and the West, continues to be made. Many utilitarian types have come to be appreciated as art. Porcelain is made by heating materials including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C; this is higher than used for the other types, achieving these temperatures was a long struggle, as well as realizing what materials were needed. The toughness and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arises from vitrification and the formation of the mineral mullite within the body at these high temperatures. Although porcelain was first made in China, the Chinese traditionally do not recognise it as a distinct category, grouping it with stoneware as "high-fired" ware, opposed to "low-fired" earthenware.
This confuses the issue of. A degree of translucency and whiteness was achieved by the Tang Dynasty, considerable quantities were being exported; the modern level of whiteness was not reached until much in the 14th century. Porcelain was made in Korea and in Japan from the end of the 16th century, after suitable kaolin was located in those countries, it was not made outside East Asia until the 18th century. Before being shaped, clay must be prepared. Kneading helps to ensure an moisture content throughout the body. Air trapped within the clay body needs to be removed; this is called de-airing and can be accomplished either by a machine called a vacuum pug or manually by wedging. Wedging can help produce an moisture content. Once a clay body has been kneaded and de-aired or wedged, it is shaped by a variety of techniques. After it has been shaped, it is dried and fired. Greenware refers to unfired objects. At sufficient moisture content, bodies at this stage are in their most plastic form (as they are soft and mal
An anta, or sometimes parastas is an architectural term describing the posts or pillars on either side of a doorway or entrance of a Greek temple - the projecting piers which terminate the walls of the naos. It differs from the pilaster, purely decorative, does not have the structural support function of the anta. In contrast to columns or pillars, antae are directly connected with the walls of a temple, they owe their origin to the vertical posts of timber employed in the early, more primitive palaces or temples of Greece, as at Tiryns and in the Temple of Hera at Olympia. They were used as load-bearing structures to carry the roof timbers, as no reliance could be placed on walls built with unburnt brick or in rubble masonry with clay mortar, they became more decorative as the materials used for wall construction became sufficient to support the structure. When there are columns between antae, as in a porch facade, rather than a solid wall, the columns are said to be in antis; the anta is crowned by a stone block designed to spread the load from superstructure it supports, called an "anta capitals" when it is structural, or sometimes "pilaster capital" if it is only decorative as during the Roman period.
In order not to protrude unduly from the wall, these anta capitals display a rather flat surface, so that the capital has more or less a brick-shaped structure overall. The anta capital can be more or less decorated depending on the artistic order it belongs to, with designs, at least in Greek architecture quite different from the design of the column capitals it stands next to; this difference disappeared with Roman times, when anta or pilaster capitals have design similar to those of the column capitals. Early Greek temples such as the 6th century BCE Siphnian Treasury had antae on both side of the porch, framing a set of columns; this was an early type of temple construction meant to reinforce weak wall construction by head posts, the antae. Sometimes, the walls were in brick, thus needed this kind of reinforcement, as in the Heraeum of Olympia. Romanesque architecture Roth, Leland M.. Understanding Architecture: Its Elements and Meaning. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 0-06-430158-3. Attribution: This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed..
"Antae". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2. Cambridge University Press. P. 88
The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first development of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development, although this term may not be used, until European contact; the Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals. The term Neolithic derives from the Greek νέος néos, "new" and λίθος líthos, "stone" meaning "New Stone Age"; the term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system. Following the ASPRO chronology, the Neolithic started in around 10,200 BC in the Levant, arising from the Natufian culture, when pioneering use of wild cereals evolved into early farming.
The Natufian period or "proto-Neolithic" lasted from 12,500 to 9,500 BC, is taken to overlap with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of 10,200–8800 BC. As the Natufians had become dependent on wild cereals in their diet, a sedentary way of life had begun among them, the climatic changes associated with the Younger Dryas are thought to have forced people to develop farming. By 10,200–8800 BC farming communities had arisen in the Levant and spread to Asia Minor, North Africa and North Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. Early Neolithic farming was limited to a narrow range of plants, both wild and domesticated, which included einkorn wheat and spelt, the keeping of dogs and goats. By about 6900–6400 BC, it included domesticated cattle and pigs, the establishment of permanently or seasonally inhabited settlements, the use of pottery. Not all of these cultural elements characteristic of the Neolithic appeared everywhere in the same order: the earliest farming societies in the Near East did not use pottery.
In other parts of the world, such as Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, independent domestication events led to their own regionally distinctive Neolithic cultures, which arose independently of those in Europe and Southwest Asia. Early Japanese societies and other East Asian cultures used pottery before developing agriculture. In the Middle East, cultures identified as Neolithic began appearing in the 10th millennium BC. Early development occurred from there spread eastwards and westwards. Neolithic cultures are attested in southeastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia by around 8000 BC; the prehistoric Beifudi site near Yixian in Hebei Province, contains relics of a culture contemporaneous with the Cishan and Xinglongwa cultures of about 6000–5000 BC, neolithic cultures east of the Taihang Mountains, filling in an archaeological gap between the two Northern Chinese cultures. The total excavated area is more than 1,200 square yards, the collection of neolithic findings at the site encompasses two phases.
The Neolithic 1 period began around 10,000 BC in the Levant. A temple area in southeastern Turkey at Göbekli Tepe, dated to around 9500 BC, may be regarded as the beginning of the period; this site was developed by nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, as evidenced by the lack of permanent housing in the vicinity, may be the oldest known human-made place of worship. At least seven stone circles, covering 25 acres, contain limestone pillars carved with animals and birds. Stone tools were used by as many as hundreds of people to create the pillars, which might have supported roofs. Other early PPNA sites dating to around 9500–9000 BC have been found in Jericho, West Bank, Gilgal in the Jordan Valley, Byblos, Lebanon; the start of Neolithic 1 overlaps the Heavy Neolithic periods to some degree. The major advance of Neolithic 1 was true farming. In the proto-Neolithic Natufian cultures, wild cereals were harvested, early seed selection and re-seeding occurred; the grain was ground into flour. Emmer wheat was domesticated, animals were herded and domesticated.
In 2006, remains of figs were discovered in a house in Jericho dated to 9400 BC. The figs are of a mutant variety that cannot be pollinated by insects, therefore the trees can only reproduce from cuttings; this evidence suggests that figs were the first cultivated crop and mark the invention of the technology of farming. This occurred centuries before the first cultivation of grains. Settlements became more permanent, with circular houses, much like those of the Natufians, with single rooms. However, these houses were for the first time made of mudbrick; the settlement had a surrounding stone wall and a stone tower. The wall served as protection from nearby groups, as protection from floods, or to keep animals penned; some of the enclosures suggest grain and meat storage. The Neolithic 2 began around 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology in the Levant; as with the PPNA dates, there are two versions from the same laboratories noted above. This system of terminology, however, is not convenient for southeast Anatolia and settlements of the middle Anatolia basin.
A settlement of 3,000 inhabitants was found in th
A sickle, bagging hook or reaping-hook, is a hand-held agricultural tool designed with variously curved blades and used for harvesting, or reaping, grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock, either freshly cut or dried as hay. Falx was a synonym but was used to mean any of a number of tools that had a curved blade, sharp on the inside edge such as a scythe. Since the beginning of the Iron Age hundreds of region-specific variants of the sickle have evolved of iron and steel; this great diversity of sickle types across many cultures can be divided into smooth or serrated blades, both of which can be used for cutting either green grass or mature cereals using different techniques. The serrated blade that originated in prehistoric sickles still dominates in the reaping of grain and is found in modern grain-harvesting machines and in some kitchen knives; the development of the sickle in Mesopotamia can be traced back to times that pre-date the Neolithic Era. Large quantities of sickle blades have been excavated in sites surrounding Israel that have been dated to the Epipaleolithic era.
Formal digs in Wadi Ziqlab, Jordan have unearthed various forms of early sickle blades. The artifacts possessed a jagged edge; this intricate ‘tooth-like’ design showed a greater degree of design and manufacturing credence than most of the other artifacts that were discovered. Sickle blades found during this time were made of flint and used in more of a sawing motion than with the more modern curved design. Flints from these sickles have been discovered near Mt. Carmel, which suggest the harvesting of grains from the area about 10,000 years ago; the sickle had a profound impact on the Agricultural Revolution by assisting in the transition to farming and crop based lifestyle. It is now accepted that the use of sickles led directly to the domestication of Near Eastern Wild grasses. Research on domestication rates of wild cereals under primitive cultivation found that the use of the sickle in harvesting was critical to the people of early Mesopotamia; the narrow growing season in the area and the critical role of grain in the late Neolithic Era promoted a larger investment in the design and manufacture of sickle over other tools.
Standardization to an extent was done on the measurements of the sickle so that replacement or repair could be more immediate. It was important that the grain be harvested at the appropriate time at one elevation so that the next elevation could be reaped at the proper time; the sickle provided a more efficient option in collecting the grain and sped up the developments of early agriculture. The sickle remained common both in the Ancient Near East and in Europe. Numerous sickles have been found deposited in hoards in the context of the European Urnfield culture, suggesting a symbolic or religious significance attached to the artifact. In archaeological terminology, Bronze Age sickles are classified by the method of attaching the handle. E.g. the knob-sickle is so called because of a protruding knob at the base of the blade which served to stabilize the attachment of the blade to the handle. The sickle played a prominent role in the Druids' Ritual of oak and mistletoe as described from a single passage in Pliny the Elder's Natural History: Due to this passage, despite the fact that Pliny does not indicate the source on which he based this account, some branches of modern Druidry have adopted the sickle as a ritual tool.
The sickle has been discovered in southwest North America with a unique structure. These sickles are said to have originated from the Far East. There is evidence that Kodiak islanders had for cutting grass “sickles made of a sharpened animal shoulder blade”; the artifacts found in present-day Arizona and New Mexico resemble curved tools that were made from the horns of mountain sheep. A similar site discovered sickles made from other material such as the Caddo Sickle, made from a deer mandible. Scripture from early natives document the use of these sickles in the cutting of grass; the instruments ranged from 13 to 16 inches tip to tip. Several other digs in eastern Arizona uncovered wooden sickles that were shaped in a similar fashion; the handles of the tools help describe how the tool was held in such a way so that the inner portion that contained the cutting surface could serve as a gathering surface for the grain. Sickles were sharpened by scraping a shape beveled edge with a coarse tool; this action has left marks on artifacts.
The sharpening process was necessary to keep the cutting edge from being dulled after extended use. The edge is seen to be quite polished, which in part proves that the instrument was used to cut grass. After collection, the grass was used as material to create bedding; the sickle in general provided the convenience of cutting the grass as well as gathering in one step. In South America, the sickle is used as a tool to harvest rice. Rice clusters are left to dry in the sun; the genealogy of sickles with serrated edge reaches back to the Stone Age, when individual pieces of flint were first attached to a “blade body” of wood or bone. Teeth have been cut with hand-held chisels into iron, steel-bladed sickles for a long time. In many countries on the African continent and South America as well as the Near and Far East this is still the case in the regions within these large geographies where the traditional village blacksmith remains alive and well. En
Irrigation is the application of controlled amounts of water to plants at needed intervals. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall. Irrigation has other uses in crop production, including frost protection, suppressing weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil consolidation. In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed or dry land farming. Irrigation systems are used for cooling livestock, dust suppression, disposal of sewage, in mining. Irrigation is studied together with drainage, the removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area. Irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5,000 years and is the product of many cultures, it was the basis for economies and societies across the globe, from Asia to the Southwestern United States. Archaeological investigation has found evidence of irrigation in areas lacking sufficient natural rainfall to support crops for rainfed agriculture.
The earliest known use of the technology dates to the 6th millennium BCE in Khuzistan in the south-west of present-day Iran. Irrigation was used as a means of manipulation of water in the alluvial plains of the Indus valley civilization, the application of it is estimated to have begun around 4500 BC and drastically increased the size and prosperity of their agricultural settlements; the Indus Valley Civilization developed sophisticated irrigation and water-storage systems, including artificial reservoirs at Girnar dated to 3000 BCE, an early canal irrigation system from c. 2600 BCE. Large-scale agriculture was practiced, with an extensive network of canals used for the purpose of irrigation. Farmers in the Mesopotamian plain used irrigation from at least the third millennium BCE, they developed perennial irrigation watering crops throughout the growing season by coaxing water through a matrix of small channels formed in the field. Ancient Egyptians practiced basin irrigation using the flooding of the Nile to inundate land plots, surrounded by dykes.
The flood water remained until the fertile sediment had settled before the engineers returned the surplus to the watercourse. There is evidence of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhet III in the twelfth dynasty using the natural lake of the Faiyum Oasis as a reservoir to store surpluses of water for use during dry seasons; the lake swelled annually from the flooding of the Nile. The Ancient Nubians developed a form of irrigation by using a waterwheel-like device called a sakia. Irrigation began in Nubia some time between the third and second millennia BCE, it depended upon the flood waters that would flow through the Nile River and other rivers in what is now the Sudan. In sub-Saharan Africa irrigation reached the Niger River region cultures and civilizations by the first or second millennium BCE and was based on wet-season flooding and water harvesting. Evidence of terrace irrigation occurs in pre-Columbian America, early Syria and China. In the Zana Valley of the Andes Mountains in Peru, archaeologists have found remains of three irrigation canals radiocarbon-dated from the 4th millennium BCE, the 3rd millennium BCE and the 9th century CE.
These canals provide the earliest record of irrigation in the New World. Traces of a canal dating from the 5th millennium BCE were found under the 4th-millennium canal. Ancient Persia used irrigation as far back as the 6th millennium BCE to grow barley in areas with insufficient natural rainfall; the Qanats, developed in ancient Persia about 800 BCE, are among the oldest known irrigation methods still in use today. They are now found in the Middle East and North Africa; the system comprises a network of vertical wells and sloping tunnels driven into the sides of cliffs and of steep hills to tap groundwater. The noria, a water wheel with clay pots around the rim powered by the flow of the stream, first came into use at about this time among Roman settlers in North Africa. By 150 BCE the pots were fitted with valves to allow smoother filling as they were forced into the water; the irrigation works of ancient Sri Lanka, the earliest dating from about 300 BCE in the reign of King Pandukabhaya, under continuous development for the next thousand years, were one of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world.
In addition to underground canals, the Sinhalese were the first to build artificial reservoirs to store water. These reservoirs and canal systems were used to irrigate paddy fields, which require a lot of water to cultivate. Most of these irrigation systems still exist undamaged up to now, in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, because of the advanced and precise engineering; the system was further extended during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu. The oldest known hydraulic engineers of China were Sunshu Ao of the Spring and Autumn period and Ximen Bao of the Warring States period, both of whom worked on large irrigation projects. In the Sichuan region belonging to the state of Qin of ancient China, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System devised by the Qin Chinese hydrologist and irrigation engineer Li Bing was built in 256 BCE to irrigate a vast area of farmland that today still supplies water. By the 2nd century AD, during the Han Dynasty, the Chinese used chain pumps which lifted water from a lower elevation to a higher one.
These were powered by manual foot-pedal, hydraulic waterwheels, or rotating mechanical wheels pulled by oxen. The water was used for public works, providing water for urban residential quarters and palace gardens, bu
A megalith is a large stone, used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The word megalithic describes structures made of such large stones without the use of mortar or concrete, representing periods of prehistory characterised by such constructions. For periods, the word monolith, with an overlapping meaning, is more to be used; the word megalith comes from the Ancient Greek μέγας and λίθος. Megalith denotes one or more rocks hewn in definite shapes for special purposes, it has been used to describe buildings built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods. The term was first used in reference to Stonehenge by Algernon Herbert in 1849. A variety of large stones are seen as megaliths, with the most known megaliths not being tombs; the construction of these structures took place in the Neolithic period and continued into the Chalcolithic period and the Bronze Age. At a number of sites in eastern Turkey, large ceremonial complexes from the 9th millennium BC have been discovered.
They belong to the incipient phases of animal husbandry. Large circular structures involving carved. Although these structures are the most ancient megalithic structures known so far, it is not clear that any of the European megalithic traditions are derived from them. At Göbekli Tepe, four stone circles have been excavated from an estimated 20; some measure up to 30 metres across. As well as human figures, the stones carry a variety of carved reliefs depicting boars, lions, birds and scorpions. Dolmens and standing stones have been found in large areas of the Middle East starting at the Turkish border in the north of Syria close to Aleppo, southwards down to Yemen, they can be encountered in Lebanon, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The largest concentration can be found in southern Syria and along the Jordan Rift Valley, however they are being threatened with destruction, they date from the late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age. Megaliths have been found on Kharg Island and pirazmian in Iran, at Barda Balka in Iraq.
A semicircular arrangement of megaliths was found in Israel at Atlit Yam, a site, now under the sea. It is a early example, dating from the 7th millennium BC; the most concentrated occurrence of dolmens in particular is in a large area on both sides of the Jordan Rift Valley, with greater predominance on the eastern side. They occur first and foremost on the Golan Heights, the Hauran, in Jordan, which has the largest concentration of dolmen in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, only few dolmen have been identified so far in the Hejaz, they seem, however, to re-emerge in Yemen in small numbers, thus could indicate a continuous tradition related to those of Somalia and Ethiopia. The standing stone has a ancient tradition in the Middle East, dating back from Mesopotamian times. Although not always'megalithic' in the true sense, they occur throughout the Orient, can reach 5 metres or more in some cases; this phenomenon can be traced through many passages from the Old Testament, such as those related to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, who poured oil over a stone that he erected after his famous dream in which angels climbed to heaven.
Jacob is described as putting up stones at other occasions, whereas Moses erected twelve pillars symbolizing the tribes of Israel. The tradition of venerating stones continued in Nabatean times and is reflected in, e.g. the Islamic rituals surrounding the Kaaba and nearby pillars. Related phenomena, such as cupholes, rock-cut tombs and circles occur in the Middle East; the most common type of megalithic construction in Europe is the portal tomb – a chamber consisting of upright stones with one or more large flat capstones forming a roof. Many of these, though by no means all, contain human remains, but it is debatable whether use as burial sites was their primary function; the megalithic structures in the northwest of France are believed to be the oldest in Europe based on radiocarbon dating. Though known as dolmens, the term most accepted by archaeologists is portal tomb; however many local names exist, such as anta in Galicia and Portugal, stazzone in Sardinia, hunebed in the Netherlands, Hünengrab in Germany, dysse in Denmark, cromlech in Wales.
It is assumed that most portal tombs were covered by earthen mounds. The second-most-common tomb type is the passage grave, it consists of a square, circular, or cruciform chamber with a slabbed or corbelled roof, accessed by a long, straight passageway, with the whole structure covered by a circular mound of earth. Sometimes it is surrounded by an external stone kerb. Prominent examples include the sites of Brú na Bóinne and Carrowmore in Ireland, Maes Howe in Orkney, Gavrinis in France; the third tomb type is a diverse group known as gallery graves. These are axially arranged chambers placed under elongated mounds; the Irish court tombs, British long barrows, German Steinkisten belong to this group. Another type of megalithic monument, the single standing stone, or menhir as it is known in France, is common throughout Europe, where some 50,000 examples have been noted; some of these are thought to have an astronomical function as a foresight. In some areas and complex alignments of such stones exist, the largest known example being located at Carnac in Brittany, France.
In parts of Britain and Ireland a common type of megalithic construct