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Found: A Hidden Monument in the Center of Petra

Space archaeology strikes again.

Petra. (Photo: Jan Smith/CC BY 2.0)

Sarah Parcak, the space archaeologist, keeps finding new and exciting places, by looking down from above. In a new paper, National Geographic reports, she and colleague Christopher Tuttle describe a previously unknown monument that they found right in the middle of Petra.

Petra, in southern Jordan, dates back to 300 B.C. and was a major city in its time. Using high-resolution satellite images, drone photos, and ground surveys, Parcek and her team located a platform that’s 184 feet by 161 feet, with another, slightly smaller platform inside. The smaller platform, National Geographic says, would have been paved with flagstones. There were columns and a staircase, and it’s the second largest “display area,” after the city’s iconic monastery.

Petra. (Photo: xavier33300/CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are “no known parallels to any other structure in Petra,” National Geographic writes. It has yet to be excavated, but it was probably used for some sort of public function. The most amazing aspect of the platform, though, is that it remained hidden for so long.

Every day, we highlight one newly found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.