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Researchers Discover Enormous, Mysterious Stone Structure in Sea of Galilee

Update Date: Apr 10, 2013 02:22 PM EDT

Move over, Stonehenge - there's a new archaeological mystery in town. Researchers have discovered an enormous structure in the Sea of Galilee that they believe was constructed in around the year 4000 B.C.E. However, they are not sure how it got there, who constructed or what purpose it served.

According to the Herald Sun, it was first spotted on sonar, and researchers suited up in scuba gear to have a closer look. Because it does not resemble any natural structure, researchers believe that it was manmade, despite the fact that there is no evident walls, divisions or pattern. The structure is cone-shaped and made of basalt cobbles and boulders. At 10 meters tall (32 feet) and 70 meters (230 feet) in diameter, the structure is twice the diameter of Stonehenge in the United Kingdom.

Researchers believe that the creation was either built underwater in order to attract fish or constructed on land that later sunk below ocean level. According to LiveScience, the investigators also hypothesize that the structure was a cairn, which was used during ancient times to mark burials.

Because of neighboring artifacts, researchers believe that the structure was built during the third millennium B.C.E. For example, the Khirbet Beteiha is nearby. The ancient structure is made up of three concentric circles and dates back to the Bronze Age. Also near the structure is the ancient city Khirbet Kerak, which was one of Israel's largest and most guarded cities during that time period.

The city's nearby location would also explain the construction of planning of such a structure. The city, also called Bet Yerah, was made up of 5,000 residents, with paved roads and defenses to show how well-organized the society was. Because so many working hours would have needed to be employed to create such a monument, it would have required the use of a great amount of community organization.

The study was published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

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