Mustatils are ancient (c. 5,300 - 5,000 BC) archeological structures found in large numbers (more than 1,000) across present-day Saudi Arabia and Jordan, in an area of more than 200,000 km².
Their name comes from the Arabic word for 'rectangle', which is their most common shape. They have also been found in Ǐ shapes and Π shapes. Some have central dividing walls.
They are typically 10s of metres long, with low stone walls (sometimes decorated) and have a narrow 'gate' entrance.
They are often found with animal remains - usually cattle bones, horns and teeth.
The reasons for their construction and their use is unknown.
“The function of mustatils remains enigmatic, though based on our combined satellite and field findings, some possibilities can be highlighted and explored by future research. A number of features evident on the ground, and not visible on satellite imagery, furnish crucial information on mustatils. For instance, the long walls are very low and typically lack obvious entry points, and therefore do not seem to be obviously functional as something like animal corrals. Likewise, the morphology and landscape position of these structures argue against other ‘pragmatic’ possibilities such as water storage.”
Source : Holocene. 2020 Dec; 30(12): 1767–1779.
Current academic opinion is leaning towards their use as some kind of ritual structure. See: Antiquity , First View , April 2021, pp. 1 - 22
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