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Mysterious holes drilled in Sudanese rocks supported makeshift shelters


Archaeologists believe they have deciphered the purpose of man-made holes drilled in rocks on the west bank of the River Nile in present day Sudan.

Mysterious holes drilled in Sudanese rocks supported makeshift shelters
Rock wall in the northern shelter, against which one of the structures was anchored; the drilled holes used 
for its anchoring are indicated by short sticks [Credit: Ladislav Varadzin, 2015/IB Times]
According to a new study in the journal Antiquity, the rocks with the holes in question are found at the site of Sphinx in central Sudan and scientists believe they served to support wooden poles of architectural structures that were used for shelter by people who lived there sometime during the Mesolithic era or later.

Mysterious holes drilled in Sudanese rocks supported makeshift shelters
Dating the holes in the rocks is challenging for archaeologists 
[Credit: Ladislav Varadzin, 2015/IB Times]
The holes have a regular cylindrical shape and a diameter ranging between 40 and 50 mm and are about 1.3 to 3.2 metres above today’s ground surface. Archaeologists have no clues as to what material was used to drill the holes, but they know it could not have been easy, since metal is not often encountered in the area at the time.

Mysterious holes drilled in Sudanese rocks supported makeshift shelters
The rock wall in the northern part of the settlement platform with numerous drilled holes for
 anchoring of one of the two structures [Credit: Ladislav Varadzin, 2015/IB Times]
In excavations that took place in 2015, archaeologists documented the measurements of the holes in detail and analysed the evidence with the use of photogrammetry, 3D models and photographs. They concluded that the holes were used to support an architectural structure firmly anchored in the rocks, with the use of pliable wooden poles made of branches and roots. Mounting shelters on the rock surface would have allowed more space for other activities in the settlement as well as providing shade all day.

Mysterious holes drilled in Sudanese rocks supported makeshift shelters
The “prehistoric” landscape of the Sabaloka Mountains, near the archaeological site
[Credit: Petr PokornĂ˝, 2014/IB Times]
Dating of the holes, and consequently the structures archaeologists believe they served, has not been easy and largely relies on other finds in the area. The site of Sphinx features artefacts which date back to the Khartoum Mesolithic era and to later periods, the Meroitic, the Post-Meroitic and Funj. This makes it difficult for researchers to draw conclusions as to the culture of the people who created them.

Source: Archaiologia Online [June 14, 2017]
TANN

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