Monday, May 18, 2015

Desert Kites


Desert Kites – Un-mortared Field Stone

Desert kites are considered to be constructions which comprise of two long walls usually built of un-mortared field stone which had been arranged in a `V’ or funnel shape, that is broad at one end, having a narrow opening leading to an enclosure or pit at the other end.

It is joined on an enclosed space which has been on its border small stone constructions known as cells. When seen from space, their shape indicate that of a windborne kite and hence they are called kites by pilots who flew over these arid areas of the Near East at the time of the British and French mandates during the first half of the 20th century CE.

Desert kits were first recognized in 1920s by the Royal Air Force pilots flying over the eastern desert of Jordan and the pilots named them `kites’ since their outline when seen from above represented it as kites. The earliest desert kites dates to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period of 9th -11th millennia BP though the technology was used as recently as the 1940s in order to hunt the Persian goitered gazelle.

Historic and ethnographic reports of these activities indicate that around 40 to 60 gazelles were trapped and killed in a single event and on occasion around 500 – 600 animals could be killed at a time.

Variation on Type of Communal Hunting Technology

These kites represent various characteristics which according to archaeology are the object of specific research though most of the methods of investigation seem useless due to the nature of these constructions. A desert kite is said to be a variation on a type of communal hunting technology that was used by hunter-gatherers all over the world.

As in the case of ancient technologies like buffalo jumps or pit traps, these desert kites consist of a collection of people purposefully herding a large group of animals into enclosures or pits, or off steep cliff edges. Group of hunters would tend to chase or herd large game animals in the wide end and chase them down the funnel to the narrow end they would be trapped in a pit or stone enclosure and then easily slaughter them.

According to archaeological evidence, it indicates that the wall need not be tall or very large. It was a hunting technique which involved a group of people who planned prior to the event and worked collectively to herd and ultimately slaughtered the animals.

Some Belief – Utilised to Herd Animals in Defensive Corrals 

Usually the desert kite are built where natural environment helps the effort on flat land between narrow deeply carved gorges while some tend to have constructed ramps leading gently upward to increase the drop off towards the end.

The stone wall or oval pits towards the narrow end tend to be between 6 and 15 metres deep with some stone walled and in some cases are also built into cell so that the animals’ speed is reduced while leaping out.

Ever since the kites were first discovered, their functions has been discussed in archaeological groups and till 1970, most of the archaeologicals are of the belief that the walls were utilised to herd animals in times of danger in defensive corrals. However, archaeological evidences together with ethnographic reports inclusive of documented historic slaughtering incidences led several researchers to abandon the defensive reason.

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