Rujm el-Hiri, Israel
Rujm el-Hiri is an ancient megalithic monument, consisting of concentric circles of stone with a tumulus at its center. It is located in the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights, some 9.9 miles (16 km) east of the coast of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of a large plateau covered with hundreds of dolmen. Rujm el-Hiri means “stone heap of the wild cat” in Arabic. In Hebrew the structure is named Gilgal Refaim, which means the “wheel of Refaim.” The Refaim were an ancient race of giants, mentioned in the Bible. The word “refaim” in modern Hebrew also means “ghosts” or “spirits.”
Made up of more than 42,000 basalt rocks arranged in concentric circles, it has a mound 15 feet (4.6 m) tall at its center. Some circles are complete, others incomplete. The outermost wall is 520 feet (160 m) in diameter and 8 feet (2.4 m) high. The establishment of the site, and other nearby ancient settlements, is dated by archaeologists to the Early Bronze Age II period (3000–2700 BC).
Since excavations have yielded very few material remains, Israeli archeologists theorize that the site was not a defensive position or a residential quarter but most likely a ritual center, possibly linked to the cult of the dead. However, there is no consensus regarding its function, as no similar structure has been found in the Near East.