Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nephilim Megaliths in Syria

Nephilim Megaliths in Syria

In the south-east of Europe lie three groups of dolmens which are no doubt in origin more closely connected with those of Asia than with those of the rest of Europe. The first group lies in Bulgaria, where no less than sixty dolmens have been found north of Adrianople. The second consists of a few dolmens which still remain in the Crimea, and the third lies in the Caucasus in two divisions, one to the south-east and the other to the south-west of the town of Ekaterinodar. These last are made of slabby rock, and thus have a finished appearance. A dolmen near Tzarskaya has a small semicircular hole at the bottom of one of its end-slabs, while another in the valley of Pehada has sides consisting of single blocks, placed so as to slant inwards considerably, and a circular hole in the centre of the slab which closes one of its ends.

In Asia megalithic monuments are not infrequent. We first find them in Syria, they have been reported from Persia, and in Central and South India they exist in large numbers. Corridor-tombs occur in Japan, but they are late in date, ]and there is no evidence to show whether they are connected with those of India or not.

Fig. 22. Dolmen with holed stone at Ala Safat.

Syria is comparatively rich in megalithic monuments, but it is remarkable that almost all of them lie to the east of the Jordan. Thus while there are hundreds of dolmens in the country of Pera and in Ammon and Moab, very few have been found in Galilee, and only one in Judæa, despite careful search. There is, however, a circle of stones west of Tiberias, and an enclosure of menhirs between Tyre and Sidon. According to Perrot and Chipiez some of the Moabite monuments are very similar in type to the Giants' Tombs of Sardinia. Others are simple dolmens. 

In a good example at Ala Safat (Fig. 22) the floor of the tomb is formed by a single flat slab of stone. The great cover-slab rests on two long blocks, one on either side, placed on edge. The narrow ends are closed up with smaller slabs, one of which, that which faces north, has a small hole pierced in it. A similar closure slab with a hole is also found in certain rock-tombs quite close to this dolmen. Apparently none of these dolmens have been systematically excavated, and nothing is known of their date.

Menhirs, too, are not wanting in Syria. Perrot and Chipiez figure an example from Gebel-Mousa in Moab which is quite unworked, except for a shallow furrow across the centre of the face. In many cases the menhir is surrounded by one or more rows of stones. Thus at Der Ghuzaleh a menhir about 3 feet in height is set in the centre of what when complete must have been a rectangle. In other cases the enclosure was elliptical or circular in form. In an example at Minieh the menhir stands in the centre of a double (in part triple) circle of stones, on which abuts an elliptical enclosure. In some cases the circle has no proper entrance, in others it has a door consisting of a large slab resting on two others. The largest of the circles attains a diameter of 600 feet, and has a double line of stones.

Within these circles and near them are found large numbers of monuments consisting each of a 
large flat slab resting on two others. On the upper surface of the top slab are often seen a number of basin-shaped holes, sometimes connected by furrows. Many of the slabs are slightly slanting, and it has been suggested that the series of holes and furrows was intended for the pouring a libation of some kind. In a monument of this type at Ammân the cover-slab slopes considerably; the upper part of its surface is a network of small channels converging on a hole 11 inches deep about the centre of the slab. Here, again, no excavations have been carried out, and we do not even know what was the purpose of these structures. It is, however, probable that these trilithons were not, like the dolmens, tombs, but served some religious purpose, possibly connected with the worship of the menhirs.

In the Jaulân, where the rock consists of a slabby type of basalt, there are many dolmens of fine appearance. They often lie east and west, and are often broader at the west end. Many are surrounded by a double circle of stones. In one of them two copper rings were found. At Ain Dakkar more than 160 dolmen-tombs are visible from a single spot. They are built on circular terraces of earth and stones about 3 feet high. The Arabs call them Graves of the Children of Israel. Most of them lie east and west, and are broader at the west. In the eastern slab there is often a hole about 2 feet in diameter. Near Tsîl 
are several corridor-tombs of simple type. Each consists of a long rectangular chamber with only one cover-slab, that being at the west end. In a well-known example of this type at Kosseir there is a hole in one of the two uprights which support the cover.

These examples will serve to show the importance and variety of the Syrian monuments. They present analogies with those of many parts of the megalithic area, and we therefore await anxiously the publication of Mackenzie's promised article on his own explorations in this district.