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Keywords:

  • prehistoric;
  • stone-built structures;
  • kites;
  • Arabia;
  • Syria;
  • hunting

The stone structures known as kites and found widely in ‘Arabia’, are one of the more intriguing archaeological traces in what are often arid and bleak landscapes. They were first reported from the air in 1927, and by 1995 — largely through interpretation of old aerial photographs — c.500 had been identified. Now (2012), remote-sensing techniques of various kinds have produced a huge increase, to over 3000. Recent work has also extended the geographical spread of kites in ‘Arabia’, from south-eastern Turkey and north-western Iraq to central Yemen. Much detailed work will be required to develop and refine a typology for kites as a whole and to digest and present data from remote sensing on which specialists may build interpretations and explanations. Current tabulation and mapping, however, already reveal patterns, and the discovery of an unusual form in the desert between Damascus and Palmyra in Syria deserves special attention.