The National Geographic just published the discovery of a gigantic monument, basically hidden in plain sight, at the World Heritage site of Petra. The news is based according to a study recently published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
Once again the site was uncovered thanks to high-resolution satellite imagery, which enabled archaeologists Sarah Parcak and Christopher Tuttle to locate and document the structure about half a mile (800 meters) south of the center of the ancient city.
The enormous platform, about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, has no known parallels to any other structure in Petra.
While the monument has not been excavated, the presence of surface pottery dating from the mid-second century B.C. suggests that construction of the structure began during the Nabataeans’ initial public building program.
“I’m sure that over the course of two centuries of research [in Petra], someone had to know [this site] was there, but it’s never been systematically studied or written up,” says Tuttle. “I’ve worked in Petra for 20 years, and I knew that something was there, but it’s certainly legitimate to call this a discovery…”