Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered in Western Sahara


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Hundreds of stone structures dating back thousands of years have been discovered in the Western Sahara, a territory in Africa little explored by archaeologists.

Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered in Western Sahara
Credit: Copyright Nick Brooks and Joanne Clarke

The structures seem to come in all sizes and shapes, and archaeologists aren’t sure what many of then were used for or when they were created, archaeologists report in the book “The Archaeology of Western Sahara: A Synthesis of Fieldwork, 2002 to 2009” (Oxbow Books, 2018).

About 75 percent of the Western Saharan territory, including most of the coastline, is controlled by Morocco, while 25 percent is controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Before 1991, the two governments were in a state of war.

Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered in Western Sahara
Credit: Copyright Nick Brooks and Joanne Clarke

Between 2002 and 2009, archaeologists worked in the field surveying the landscape and doing a small amount of excavation in the part of Western Sahara that is controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. They also investigated satellite images on Google Earth, they wrote in the book.

“Due to its history of conflict, detailed archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research in Western Sahara has been extremely limited,” wrote Joanne Clarke, a senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and Nick Brooks, an independent researcher.

Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered in Western Sahara
Credit: Copyright Nick Brooks and Joanne Clarke

“The archaeological map of Western Sahara remains literally and figuratively almost blank as far as the wider international archaeological research community is concerned, particularly away from the Atlantic coast,” wrote Clarke and Brooks, noting that people living in the area know of the stone structures, and some work has been done by Spanish researchers on rock art in Western Sahara.

Mysterious structures

The stone structures are designed in a wide variety of ways. Some are shaped like crescents, others form circles, some are in straight lines, some in rectangular shapes that look like a platform; some structures consist of rocks that have been piled up into a heap. And some of the structures use a combination of these designs. For instance, one structure has a mix of straight lines, stone circles, a platform and rock piles that altogether form a complex about 2,066 feet (630 meters) long, the archaeologists noted in the book.

Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered in Western Sahara
Credit: Copyright Nick Brooks and Joanne Clarke

Though the archaeologists are unsure of the purpose of many of the structures, they said some of them may mark the location of graves. Little excavation has been done on the structures, and archaeologists have found few artifacts that can be dated using a radiocarbon method. Among the few excavated sites are two “tumuli” (heaps of rock) that contain human burials dating back around 1,500 years.

Research suggests that Western Sahara was once a wetter place that could sustain more animal life than it does today. Archaeologists documented rock art showing images of cattle, giraffe, oryx and Barbary sheep while environmental researchers found evidence for lakes and other water sources that dried up thousands of years ago.

Security problems

At present, security problems in the region mean that fieldwork has stopped, Clarke and Brooks told Live Science. The terrorist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates in the desert regions near Western Sahara, and in 2013 they kidnapped two Spanish aid workers at a refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria, just across the border from Western Sahara.

Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered in Western Sahara
Credit: Copyright Nick Brooks and Joanne Clarke

While the Sahrawi people and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic strongly oppose the terrorist group, it’s extremely difficult for authorities to effectively patrol the vast desert areas where the stone structures are located, Clarke and Brooks said. This means archaeologists can’t work there safely right now. This problem is not unique to Western Sahara, as the security risks posed by terrorist and extremist groups in the region mean that archaeologists can’t work in much of North Africa right now, they said.

Author: Owen Jarus | Source: Live Science [February 05, 2019]


  1. This information is already out of date. It's not the building, and geoglyphs. And not hundreds, but tens of thousands. Geoglyphs occupy the entire Central part of the Sahara.
    The Sahara Geoglyphs are a unique phenomenon and an archaeological sensation of today. This grand phenomenon has yet to be reconsidered and studied in detail. But even now we can speak with confidence about another riddle of the past, of a scale no less than the mystery of the Nazca Plateau geoglyphs and many other similar mysteries. It can be said that the Sahara geoglyphs are the African Nazca desert, but considerably larger.

    There are no lines and drawings here, but there are tens of thousands of grand objects laid out of heavy boulders. They are located on a huge area and occupy almost the entire central part of the Sahara.

    The work on the creation of geoglyphs is striking in its colossal scale and, most importantly, in the absence of an acceptable reason that prompted it to be done. Therefore, to explain the origin of this phenomenon in the academic version of history will be very difficult, but most likely – impossible.

    At the moment, this is what can be said about the Sahara geoglyphs:

    1. They are surely geoglyphs. I.e., they surely are artificially created objects on the surface of the Earth in the form of images of certain symbols, which can only be fully viewed from a height.

    2. Their number is huge. To date, as part of the project, over 20,000 individual characters have been exactly located. And it looks like it is only the beginning.

    3. Geoglyphs occupy a huge area, more than 2 million square kilometers. The distance between the individual elements is more than 2000 km in the latitudinal direction, and more than 1000 km in the meridional direction.

    4. The sizes of geoglyphs range from a few meters to several hundred meters. The perimeter of some images is more than 1 km. But the bulk of geoglyphs has dimensions of about 30 to 60 meters.

    5. In most cases, images of symbols on the surface of the desert are laid out with stones, most likely collected in the area. The exact origin of the material from which the geoglyphs are made can only be determined after studying it at the site.

    6. All geoglyphs, with a very high probability, are an integral system, and are interrelated, both between themselves and with other objects of the System of Ancient Monumental Structures (SAMS).

    7. In the arrangement of symbols relative to each other, the same principles are observed as in the arrangement of other objects of the SAMS. Due to this, the Sahara geoglyphs make it possible to determine very accurately cardinal directions and the direction to some of the key points of the System.
    More detailed –

    VIDEO –

  2. Indeed the beginning of recovering the true African history, one written in stone and sand. So we become conscious of the cyclic existence of not only people but landscapes within the cosmic timing that was anciently understood Finding our cosmic connection, the 'Itongo' or Universal Spirit becomes paramount.



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