Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

The 10 Greatest Mysteries in Israel

Is there a mermaid in Kiryat Yam? What is the ancient 600-year-old wheel of ghosts in the Golan Heights? And where are the Maccabees really buried?

By: Abigail Klein Leichman

Published: June 24th, 2014 in News » Israel

The 10 Greatest Mysteries in Israel

If you’ve ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, you know that the history of the Holy Land is filled with intriguing mysteries. Despite Indiana Jones-style explorers’ best guesses, we don’t know where the ark and other precious furnishings from the first Holy Temple lie buried. And we’re still not certain who wrote each of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Here is a list of other perplexing mysteries in Israel, some from thousands of years ago and others as recent as yesterday’s news.

1. Galgal Refaim

The mysterious ancients responsible for Britain’s Stonehenge could not have built Galgal Refaim (“wheel of ghosts”) or Rujm al-Hiri in Arabic (“stone heap of the wild cats”) between roads 808 and 98 in Israel’s Golan Heights. But like the much younger Stonehenge, Galgal Refaim (also called Gilgal Refaim) is remarkable for its stone structure achieved perhaps 6,000 years ago. An estimated 42,000 tons of basalt stone are laid out in four huge concentric circles that may have reached as high as 30 feet. The prevailing theory is that it was some sort of burial complex or cultic center – or both.

2. Kinneret mystery mound

This drawing shows how the mound sits in the Sea of Galilee.

This drawing shows how the mound sits in the Sea of Galilee.

A stone’s throw from the baptismal site of Jesus on the Jordan River, Israeli researchers uncovered a third-century BCE conical mound of stones in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret to Israelis). Today it’s a convenient rest stop for summer birds, but some Christian speculators think it could have provided the platform for Jesus’ miracle of walking on water and rescuing followers. Prof. Shmulik Marco from Tel Aviv University believes the stones were a cairn to protect human remains, most likely constructed on land and pushed out to sea by an earthquake.

3. Lost tombs of the Maccabees

This tourist spot isn’t the real deal. Photo by Matti Friedman/Times of Israel

This tourist spot isn’t the real deal. Photo by Matti Friedman/Times of Israel

Ancient sources reveal that the tombs of the Hasmonean heroes of the second-century BCE Hanukkah story – Mattityahu the priest, his wife and his five sons, known as the Maccabees – were marked by a magnificent pyramid structure visible from miles away. Yet adventurers and scholars have been searching unsuccessfully for this monument in the Modi’in area since 1866. A modern tourist site dubbed the Maccabean Graves actually dates from centuries after the time of the Maccabees. Antiquities Authority Archaeologist Amit Reem is trying to raise enough money to re-explore a site first suggested as the Maccabean tomb by a French scholar in 1896.

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Via ISRAEL21c

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