5,000-year-old Moon-shaped Stone Structure Identified in Northern Israel

Previously thought to have been an old city's walls, but Israeli archaeologist's study indicates crescent shaped monument had a possible symbolic significance to ancient moon god.

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A stone structure larger than a football field in northern Israel has been identified as a 5,000 year-old monument by an Israeli archaeologist.

The 150 meter long stone structure is located about 12 kilometers northwest of the Sea of Galilee, between the towns of Parod and Shefer. Pottery excavated from the crescent-shaped monument, known locally either as Rujum en-Nabi Shua'ayb or Jethro Cairn, dates it to between 3050 and 2650 BCE, making it older then the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Fox News reported.

Though it was previously thought to be the remnants of an old city wall, Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, showed that there was no archeological evidence of a city near it, and posited that the structure is in fact a monument carrying symbolic significance.

According to Wachtel, the monument's shape, a crescent, may have been chosen to symbolize the ancient Mesopotamian moon god Sin. Wachtel also noted that an ancient town called Bet Yerah, "house of the moon god" in Hebrew, is only a day's walk from the monument - too far to act as fortifications, but just enough to possibly serve to mark the town's borders.

Bet Yerah, or "Khirbet Kerak" in Arabic, was located about 30 kilometers away from the monument. The town was fortified, and its inhabitants had trading relations with Egypt's early kings, according to several artifacts excavated at the site of the town, the Fox News report said.

Though the town has been mentioned by the name Bet Yerah in 1,500 years old rabbinical texts, it is unclear whether it stood under that same moniker at the time of the monument's construction.

According to Wachtel's research, it would have taken a team of 200 workers at the time between five to seven months to construct the monument. This, according to Wachtel, is a significant task for a people who had to devote most of their time to cultivating crops to survive.

"We need to remember that people were [obligated] most of the year to agriculture," Wachtel told Fox.