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Sunlight and Holes in Tombs and Monuments

23 February 2010

www.thenational.ae – The National (Arab Emirates) … has a piece on the period before monotheistic religions took root – an era of different gods with many names, shapes, and sizes. The role of the Sun in the ancient Arab world was apparently very important as inside small ancient beehive shape buildings (tombs) a single ray of sunshine crept in through a smallish opening – and lit the interior for a couple of hours (each day). Such apertures in ancient structures appear to be cropping up all over the place – once archaeologists begin looking out for them. The importance of the Sun to people around 3000BC, and legendary allusions to odd behaviour, indicates something lies at the root of what is rapidly becoming an epidemic of roof boxes – a practise that continued even into the Jewish and Christian eras. The Hafeet tombs on the Arabian peninsular date between 3200-2700BC – and one reason this dating is fixed is because Jemdat Nasr pottery has been found inside them. Jemdat Nasr represents a phase in Sumeria immediately preceding what is known as the Early Dynastic era. Hence, the openings in Arabia were contemporary with the roof boxes in the tombs on the Bend in the Boyne. However, whereas the latter are huge monuments the Arabian tombs are quite small structures with an entranceway that requires getting down on hands and knees – and this is where the sunlight penetrates – from the south east. They are usually around 4m high and 2m wide, and there are hundreds of them along an escarpment in Al Ain. Similar tombs can be found in the Qoor valley, in Khatt and the Beeh Valley, and on Bahrain. The Sun was regarded as a goddess, it is thought, and inside the Holy Kaaba of Pre-Islamic Mecca there was a depiction of Lat (a Sun goddess). The tombs appear to have been reused at later stages in history – as late as the Iron Age (around 300BC).

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