Ancient Lake Structure Found Beneath Sea Of Galilee: Scientists To Excavate Jumbo Jet Sized Object [YouTube]

By Staff Reporter on April 24, 2013 6:13 PM EDT

Ancient lake structure
An ancient lake structure lies in the Sea of Galilee. (Photo: YouTube)

An ancient lake structure was found lying in the depths of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. According to scientists, the structure has a diameter larger than the entire length of a Boeing jumbo jet. Following a decade of study, scientists plan to lift the structure to reveal its secrets.

According to Tel Aviv University Geophysicist Shmuel Marco, the ancient lake structure was accidentally discovered in 2003 when a sonar scanner that surveyed the bottom of the lake found a massive circular structure.

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"We just bumped into it," told Shmuel Marco. "Usually the bottom of the lake is quite smooth. We were surprised to find a large mound. Initially we didn't realize the importance of this but we consulted with a couple of archaeologists, and they said it looked like an unusually large Bronze Age statue."

Scuba diving researchers determined the ancient lake structure was comprised of basalt rocks that were arranged in the shape of a cone. The structure measured 230 feet at the base and measured 32 feet tall. What's more, the ancient lake structure is estimated to weigh 60,000 tons. In fact, scientists claim the ancient lake structure is twice the size of England's famous Stonehenge.

Marco explained that the ancient lake structure's massive size and underwater location is significant as well: "From a geophysical perspective, it is also important to the history of the lake, because it means the water level was lower than it was today."

Measured from the highest point of the object, the ancient lake structure is 30 feet below the surface. Due to the structure's remarkable preservation, scientists can only pinpoint the object's age based on sand accumulating over the bottom of the base. Given sand accumulation at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee averages one to four millimeters a year, scientists determined the structure's age from anywhere between 2,000 to 12,000 years old.

The only thing more difficult to determine than the ancient lake structure's age is its purpose. University of Haifa archeologist Dani Nadel is a partner involved in the site of the ancient lake structure. Despite possessing a wealth of experience after leading several prehistoric excavations in the region, Nadel could not find substantial evidence to indicate what purpose the structure might have served.

"This is such a huge structure that it truly is something unusual. It could have been a big ceremonial structure, or a ramp. There could have once been statues on top of people in certain rituals. I mean, I'm really going wild here. The truth is we don't know how it was constructed, what its exact age is, how it was used, or how long ago it was used. We have several speculations, but we don't know much except that it's there and it's huge."

The archeologist leading the study is Yitzhak Pak. In order to conduct comprehensive research, Pak admits a lot more money must be raised before the team can enjoy meaningful progress.

"If the site was inland, it would be much easier to investigate. By now we would have excavated, but because it's submerged we haven't yet been able to. It is a much harder process, both physically and financially. It is very expensive to raise support for such an enterprise."

At this point, researchers and archeologists have proposed two main theories on what the structure might have been.

According to Shmuel Marco, the ancient lake structure could have been constructed underwater as a fish nursery. However, archaeologists believe the structure was built on dry land and was later submerged into the lake.

Whatever it is, archeologists agree that the ancient lake structure must have been of great importance to the people that built it.

"We see a society that was capable of organizing the construction of such a large structure. It's unique to transport these stones and unique to arrange them. You need to plan and to mobilize people, because they're too heavy to be carried by a single person," emphasized Nadel. "You have to imagine, these people were building something that was more durable than their brush huts."

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