New research has found that some of the Middle East's ancient geoglyphs, which are giant stone structures that take the forms of various geometric shapes, date back to prehistoric times, according to Live Science .
The research has confirmed the speculation that some of these structures, which have been known as the "works of the old men" by native Bedouins, are older than the world's most famous geoglyphs, the ancient Nazca Lines in Peru which take the forms of various animals.
Many of the Middle East's ancient stone structures, which are found throughout the desert of the Arabian Peninsula from Jordan and Syria to Saudi Arabia, take the form of wheels that often have spokes radiating out from the center.
Using the archaeological dating technique known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), two giant wheels in Jordan's Wadi Wisad were found to be prehistoric.
One was found to be 8,500 years old and the other was estimated to have been built about 8,500 years ago and then possibly repaired or remodeled around 5,500 years ago.
The new findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science and Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, have also highlighted some mysterious qualities about the ancient structures.
One such quality is that the structures are almost invisible on the ground and appear as just random piles of stones, yet they are clearly seen from the air as the giant geometrical structures that they really are.
Another quality is that some of the wheels could have possibly been built to align with the sun, as analysis of one cluster of wheels in Jordan's Azraq Oasis found that their spokes are oriented in a southeast-northwest direction which points to where the sun rises during the winter solstice.
The use of these wheels are also among the mysteries, but the researchers suggest that they could have possibly been used in burial customs due to the occasional presence of cairns, which are man-made piles of stones that were used as burial monuments in prehistory.
Other research has identified uses for some of the other stone structures in the Middle East, as structures known as desert kites, which consist of long walls that converge into a confined space, are believed to have been used in hunting to trap wild animals.
The Middle East's structures were first noticed by pilots during World War I, after which Royal Air Force lieutenant Percy Maitland described them in a report that was published in the journal Antiquity in 1927.
The mysterious designs have since intrigued and baffled researchers due to their close similarity to Peru's famous Nazca Lines.