How Do We Know These Artifacts Are Designed if We Don’t Know the Designer?
Evolution News & Views
We don’t know who made them. We don’t know how they were made. We don’t know what purpose they served. But we know they were intentionally made by mindful individuals. At least, Live Science never questions the design inference about strange stone structures in Middle Eastern deserts that are shaped like wheels, triangles, and long lines (see the photo gallery). Why is design the obvious inference?
There are hundreds of these structures. They extend over much of the Middle East: Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
The “works of the old men” include wheels, which often have spokes radiating out from the center, kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals), pendants (lines of stone cairns) and meandering walls, which are mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet.
The works “demonstrate specific geometric patterns and extend from a few tens of meters up to several kilometers, evoking parallels to the well-known system of geometric lines of Nazca, Peru,” wrote an archaeological team in a paper published recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (Peru’s Nazca Lines date to between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500.). [Emphasis added.]
World War I pilots readily inferred they were man-made. Bedouins call them the “works of the old men,” but apparently do not know who the “old men” were. It’s not clear what they were used for. The wheels might have been for forecasting seasons, since they tend to be aligned northwest to southeast to match sunrise at the winter solstice. But why the triangles? And the hundreds of “gates” with their long parallel lines? Who would make large structures that can’t be seen readily from ground level?
Why people in prehistoric times would build wheel-shaped structures that can’t be seen well from the ground remains a mystery. No balloon or glider technologies existed at that time. Additionally, researchers say that climbing to a higher elevation to view them was probably not possible, at least not in most cases.
New research using optically stimulated luminescence on the stones has produced dates of about 8,500 years for a couple of the structures. That makes them older than the Nazca lines. Were they burial structures? Signals to their gods? Animal traps?
Other points of interest aside, the mystery serves to illustrate the logic of the design inference. These structures demonstrate that it’s not necessary to know (1) the identity of the designer, (2) the motivation or purpose of the designer, or (3) the function of the design. It’s also not necessary to know when they were made, or how.
To make the design inference robust, however, it’s important not to jump to conclusions…
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