Israeli archaeologists are scratching their collective heads over the discovery of a behemoth-like conical and circular structure that is located at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee.
The monumental, man-made structure made of boulders and stones was discovered during a routine sonar scan in 2003
Earlier this year, an article appearing in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology indicated that initial dives revealed that the asymmetrical structure weighing approximately 60,000 tons was found at a depth of between three and twelve meters (9 and 40 feet) beneath the water’s surface. It was located about half a kilometer (1600 feet) from the sea’s southwestern shore and researchers say that its base is buried by sediment while “fish teem around the structure and between its blocks” according to an AP report.
Researcher Yitzhak Paz, of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University, told Live Science that the mound could date back more than 4,000 years. “The more logical possibility is that it belongs to the third millennium B.C., because there are other megalithic phenomena from the same time that are found close by,” he said. He added that “the period is hard for us to determine. No scientific work was carried out there, no excavations, no surveys. We have no artifacts from the structure.”
Other renowned archaeologists have weighed in with their conjecture on the mysterious structure. “It could have been a big ceremonial structure, or a ramp. This is such a huge structure that it truly is something unusual,” said Dani Nadel, an archeologist from the University of Haifa “There could have once been statues on top of people in certain rituals. The truth is we don’t know how it was constructed, what its exact age is, how it was used, or how long ago it was used. We have several speculations, but we don’t know much except that it’s there and it’s huge.”
A report in Time magazine indicated that other possible explanations abound but the main theory is that the 230-foot wide structure, which is larger than a Boeing 747 aircraft, was built on dry land and then became submerged at the water level. Others have hypothesized that the structure was created below the surface as a fish nursery, as similar smaller structures have already been discovered that were built for that purpose. Others have opined that the structure could be an ancient underwater burial ground.
Although researchers have limited knowledge about this structure, they say that it “is indicative of a complex, well-organized society, with planning skills and economic ability.” Archaeologists have said that a definitive assessment of the structure would demand an underwater excavation which can be a protracted process that could run hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to published reports, if excavations were to take place, it would mark the first time that such an undertaking was done in the Sea of Galilee. Also known as Lake Kinneret in Israel, the ancient body of water is actually a freshwater lake. It is considered the largest in Israel and the lowest on the planet. It measures roughly 64 square miles with a maximum depth of 141 feet. As the setting of many Bible scenes, the Sea of Galilee boasts historical remnants spanning thousands of years.
“Until we do more research, we don’t have much more to add,” Nadel said. “It’s a mystery, and every mystery is interesting.”