Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Desert kites and buffalo jumps

A recent archaeological discovery in Syria has revealed the purpose of puzzling ancient formations known, because of their shape, as desert kites.

On May 7 on CBC Radio, the host of the fascination program Quirks and Quarks interviewed an archeologist from the Smithsonian who has been involved with the recent archeological work at Tell Kuran in northeastern Syria.

The discovery of the bones of at least 93 gazelles confirm that the purpose of these stone corrals was hunting: the fence-like shapes were used to drive herds of gazelles into a trap where they could be slaughtered.

On the other side of the world, ancient people used similar methods to trap gazelles as those used by the native peoples of the Canadian prairies. Evidence of this old hunting practice is now commemorated by an interpretive centre at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, in southern Alberta. I mentioned this place in a recent post about Fort Macleod.

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