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First chronometric results for ‘works of the old men’: late prehistoric ‘wheels’ near Wisad Pools, Black Desert, Jordan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2016

Gary O. Rollefson
Department of Anthropology, Whitman College, 345 Boyer Avenue, Walla Walla, WA 99362, USA
Constantin D. Athanassas
Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE), Europole de l'Arbois, BP 80, F-13454, Aix-en-Provence cedex 4, France
Yorke M. Rowan*
The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Alexander M.R. Wasse
Art, Media and American Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
*Author for correspondence (Email:


Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating has provided the first absolute dates for the prehistoric stone arrangements known as ‘wheels’, found in Jordan's Black Desert region. These sub-circular enclosures are one form of a series of enigmatic structures known as ‘works of the old men’. Over 1000 ‘wheels’ have been identified in the basalt fields of eastern Jordan and Syria, but their original purpose is unclear. They are divided into irregular sections, and often contain a number of burial cairns. OSL analysis has been carried out on samples from two wheels in the Wisad region: one dated broadly to the Late Neolithic period, and the second to the Late Chalcolithic–Early Bronze Age transition.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2016 

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