Category Archives: EUROPE

This Ancient Underground City Was Big Enough to House 20,000 People

This Ancient Underground City Was Big Enough to House 20,000 People

Chicago, like a lot of other modern cities, has a hidden secret: It’s home to miles of passageways deep underground that allow commuters to get from one place to another without risking nasty weather.

This Ancient Underground City Was Big Enough to House 20,000 People
Illustration of the underground maze-like ancient city beneath Cappadocia.
The Cappadocia landscape with its tuff towers.

Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Dallas all have their own networks of underground tunnels, as well. But there’s a place in Eastern Europe that puts those forgotten passages to shame. Welcome to Derinkuyu — the underground city.

A Subterranean Suburb

Picture this. It’s 1963, and you’re on a construction crew renovating a home. You bring your sledgehammer down on a soft stone wall, and it all crumbles away, revealing a large, snaking passageway so long that you can’t see where it ends.

This is the true story of how the undercity at Derinkuyu was (re-)discovered. While those workers knew they’d found something special, they couldn’t know just how massive their discovery had been.

Stretching 250 feet (76 meters) underground with at least 18 distinct levels, Derinkuyu was a truly massive place to live. Yes, live. There was room for 20,000 people to stay here, complete with all of the necessities (and a few luxuries) — freshwater, stables, places of worship, and even wineries and oil presses.

Circular stones were used to seal access to passageways.

It isn’t the only underground city in the area known as Cappadocia, but it’s the deepest one we know of, and for many years, it was believed to be the largest as well. (Another recently discovered location may have been home to even more people.)

Derinkuyu and the other 40-ish underground cities nearby are made possible thanks to the prevalence of tuff in the area, a kind of volcanic rock that solidifies into something soft and crumbly. That makes it relatively easy to carve enormous subterranean passages — but why would you want to? The answer lies in the cities’ origins.

Defense Against the Sword Arts

Derinkuyu isn’t exactly inhospitable on the surface level (after all, that’s where the people who found it were living). So why did ancient people decide to build their living quarters below the surface? Because they weren’t hiding from the broiling sun or annual meteor showers.

They were clearly hiding from invading forces, with massive, rolling stone doors to block off each floor should any armies breach the fortress. But who were the people of the caves, and who were they defending themselves against? The answer to the second question depends on the answer to the first.

The earliest known people to live in the area were the Hittites, who ruled the Turkish Peninsula from about the 17th to 13th centuries B.C.E. — well over three millennia ago.

Some scholars point to artefacts with Hittite cultural elements, such as a small statue of a lion, found in the underground caves. That suggests these ancient people would have been taking refuge from invading Thracians.

A 55-meter (180-ft) shaft used a primary well at Derinkuyu.

If they were, it didn’t work forever: A tribe of Thracians, the Phrygians, conquered the area next. It’s possible that the Hittites never lived underground, however; an alternate theory says that it was the Phrygians, not the Hittites, who spawned the subterranean city.

Since the construction of many of the large underground complexes is dated to some time between the 10th and 7th centuries B.C.E., and the Phrygians lived there until the 6th century B.C.E., they’re generally regarded to have created the first caves. In that case, they may have been hiding from the Persian host under Cyrus the Great that eventually did take over the region.

Lost and Found

The Persians would have used those caves as well, as would all of the people to come after. Eventually, according to some sources, early Christians around the 2nd century C.E. took root in the caves as they fled Roman persecution.

This pattern continued throughout the centuries and millennia to come — in fact, Greek Christians were still using the caves as late as 1923. It’s pretty incredible, then, that the caves would have been forgotten in the 40-odd years between their last residents and their “re-discovery.”

It’s more likely, then, that it wasn’t the caves themselves, but the extent of the caves that were forgotten. While the holes burrowed into the area’s fairy chimneys would have been obvious even from a distance, it’s likely that the people living in more modern accommodations never realized that the caves in the wilderness outside of the urban area reached 18 stories down.

Divers Just Found Four 2,200-Year-Old Roman Battering Rams Used During The Punic Wars

Divers Just Found Four 2,200-Year-Old Roman Battering Rams Used During The Punic Wars

An Ancient Roman battering ram was used to end the First Punic War.

The First Punic War, fought between Ancient Rome and Carthage for supremacy over the western Mediterranean, began in 264 B.C. It was the most prolonged naval conflict in antiquity. For 23 years on the seas from Sicily to North Africa, warships clashed with their battering rams — four of which have just been found.

Each of these colossal artefacts was made of bronze and weighed 450 pounds. Formerly fitted to the bows of Roman warships, they tore into the enemy vessels of Carthage at the Battle of the Aegates on March 10, 241 B.C. The fight was so brutal that it ended the First Punic War in a single day.

After thousands of years on the seafloor, these ancient weapons of war were finally retrieved from wrecks off the coast of Sicily, where the battle took place.

The retrieval effort was conducted by the U.S. RPM Nautical Foundation and Sicily’s Marine Archaeology Unit, and the find has shed new light on the wars of antiquity.

Historical accounts indicate Ancient Rome sank up to 50 Carthaginian ships with these rams, which held three enormous blades that ripped into the wooden hulls of enemy ships.

The three blades on each side were used to tear through enemy hulls.

That feat of engineering was one of the main reasons for Rome’s emerging victorious from the war.

The newly-retrieved Roman rams all bore inscriptions from judges that affirmed these weapons were made in accordance with the high Roman engineering standards.

Carthaginian battering rams, meanwhile, commonly held inscriptions dedicated to Baal, a deity worshipped for its control of the weather, suggesting they put their faith in gods instead of builders. Valeria Livigni of the Marine Archaeology Unit confirmed that the Carthaginian rams were “less well made than the Roman rams.”

That wasn’t the only revelation, however. Now, previous beliefs about Rome’s naval strategies have been challenged. While accounts have long indicated that both parties had about 200 ships, with Rome sinking 50 enemy vessels and capturing 70 while losing only 30 ships, their attacks are now being reassessed.

“We believed that ships tried to ram each other broadside,” said David Ruff of the RPM. “But many of the rams we have discovered are damaged, suggesting they went head to head. Either way, these were very violent collisions.”

The site of the Battle of Aegates was only identified in 2010.

Historians believe that Romans would toss both their masts and anchors overboard during an approach and row their now lighter vessels into a Carthaginian ship. Their enemies, meanwhile, commanded far heavier ships with payloads meant to be offloaded at the Mediterranean ports of Drepena and Lilybaeum.

The site of the Battle of Aegates was only identified in 2010 when a fisherman spotted a battering ram below his boat and notified Italian archaeologist Sebastiano Tusa. Earlier this summer, divers discovered three merchant vessels that held more than 200 ceramic jars, with some still containing traces of wine.

The Battle of the Aegates was first recorded by Greek historians Polybius and Diodorus. It began as a fight over the control of Sicily. With Rome encroaching on the town of Drepana, Carthage took to the seas to defend itself under the command of Hannibal’s son Hanno against Roman forces led by Praetor Quintus Valerius Falto.

The battering rams weigh 450 pounds each and the blades are two feet long.

While Rome lost a few dozen ships and saw 50 more damaged, their maneuverability allowed for more complex approaches than their enemy.

Colliding into Carthaginian ships with lighter vessels and greater speeds saw Hanno’s weighty fleet suffer immense losses before it could pick up reinforcements from shore.

The Roman warships easily encircled their slower enemies before ramming right into their hulls, casting the Carthaginian sailors into the seas and watching their vessels sink.

The sheer slaughter saw any remaining Carthaginian ships flee home. Hanno was crucified for his disastrous loss in battle.

Carthage sued for peace and signed the Treaty of Lutatius, which forced them to give up Sicily and pay enormous reparations. And although the First Punic War was over, there were still two more to come, and the battle for the dominance of the Mediterranean wouldn’t end for almost another 100 years.

Remarkably, it was only a few months ago that divers uncovered an Ancient Greek military vessel nearby. While this latest diving team uncovered Ancient Roman warships, it seems the Mediterranean has a lot left to offer historians — and is sure to broaden our understanding of ancient naval warfare for years to come.

Mysterious stone balls made 5,500 years ago were discovered on the island’s ancient tomb

Mysterious stone balls made 5,500 years ago were discovered on the island’s ancient tomb

Mysterious stone balls made 5,500 years ago were discovered on the island's ancient tomb
One of the polished stone balls was found in a Neolithic tomb on Tresness in the Orkney Islands. Hundreds of such balls have been found but no one knows what they were used for.

Two polished stone balls shaped about 5,500 years ago — linked to a mysterious practice almost unique to Neolithic Britain — have been discovered in an ancient tomb on the island of Sanday, in the Orkney Islands north of mainland Scotland.

Hundreds of similar stone balls, each about the size of a baseball, have been found at Neolithic sites mainly in Scotland and the Orkney Islands, but also in England, Ireland and Norway, Live Science previously reported.

Some are ornately carved — such as the famous Towie ball discovered in northeast Scotland in 1860 — but others are studded with projections or smoothly polished.

Early researchers suggested that the balls were used as weapons, and so they were sometimes called “mace heads” as a result. Another idea is that rope could have been wound around the lobes carved into some of the balls to throw them.

Archaeologists Reveal Medieval Saint’s Hut on Scottish Island
Archaeologists have found evidence that the remains of a hut on the island of Iona date to the late sixth century A.D., the exact period when Saint Columba lived and worked at the site. Credit: University of Glasgow.

But most archaeologists now think the stone balls were made mainly for artistic purposes, perhaps to signify a person’s status in their community or to commemorate an important phase of their lives, said archaeologist Vicki Cummings of the University of Central Lancashire in England, who led the excavations of the tomb on Sanday.

The two stone balls found at the tomb near the beach at Tresness on Sanday — one made of black stone and the other of lighter-coloured limestone — are very early examples of such objects and were smoothly polished, rather than being carved like the Towie ball. Carving balls tended to happen later in the Neolithic period, she said, while polishing balls was generally an earlier practice.

The two polished balls “are much simpler, but they are still beautiful objects,” Cummings told Live Science. “They would have taken quite a long time to make because it is quite time-consuming to polish a stone … You’ve got to sit there with some sand and some water and a stone, and basically put the work in.”

Neolithic tomb

The tomb was built about 5,500 years ago when the coast was much further away. It’s now in danger of being damaged by a storm.

This is one of the few times that stone balls have been found in their true archaeological context, Cummings said, which could shed light on the purpose of the mysterious objects. Each of the balls was found in the corners of two different compartments used to inter human remains in the burial chamber of the tomb, while other objects — especially pieces of pottery — were found along the compartment walls.

“Probably what was happening was that people were putting little slabs down and putting pots on top of these slabs,” Cummings said. “They really seemed to be interested in the walls and the corners.”

Inside the tomb, archeologists also found a deposit of cremated human bones near the entrances of two of the five compartments in the burial chamber, as well as several “scale knives,” which were made by breaking beach pebbles into flakes that had a sharp edge.

“You can use it as a really good butchery tool — and we found tons of those in the [tomb], which is really surprising. And that begs the question of what they [the makers] were up to,” Cummings said.

People may have used knives to separate the flesh from the bones of the dead. “It might suggest they were manipulating the human remains that were placed in the chamber — there are many traditions and lots of examples of that,” she said.

Ancient islands

The Orkney Islands are beyond the very northernmost tip of mainland Scotland. They are dotted with archaeological sites, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site, called the Heart of Neolithic Orkney around the Ness of Brodgar complex and the Neolithic village at Skara Brae, which suggests the islands were well-populated about 5,000 years ago. 

“The Orkney Islands might seem remote when you look at a map, but when you come here you see they are incredibly rich agricultural land that’s very easy to work,” Cummings said. “I think Neolithic people got here and were really successful — they found an environment that they just thrived in.”

The excavations on Sanday have been a joint effort between the University of Central Lancashire team, led by Cummings, and archaeologists from the National Museums Scotland led by Hugo Anderson-Whymark. The ancient tomb is near the coast and is vulnerable to being disturbed by a storm at sea, so the researchers are trying to find out as much as possible before the site is damaged, Cummings said.

The tomb and a Neolithic settlement they’ve excavated about a mile (1.6 kilometres) away would have been farther from the coast about 5,500 years ago, and the landscape would have had more trees than it does now, she said.

Although the tomb was investigated in the 1980s, only superficial excavations were made that didn’t reveal its old age. During the latest excavations, which took about four years to conclude, the researchers applied the latest archaeological techniques to the tomb, including making a three-dimensional photogrammetric model of it, Cummings said.

The archaeologists will now conduct analyses of the data gathered during the excavations, she said, which hopefully will provide even more information about the Neolithic people of the islands.

Netherlands: They rebuild the face of the first Dutch Neanderthal

Netherlands: They rebuild the face of the first Dutch Neanderthal

You can now gaze into the crinkly eyes of “Krijn,” a young Neanderthal man who had a tumour growing on his skull when he died up to 70,000 years ago.

In 2001, an amateur palaeontologist found a piece of Krijn’s skull while sifting through sediments collected from the bottom of the North Sea, off the coast of the Netherlands.

Now, paleo-anthropological artists have used that hunk of the skull to create a lifelike bust of Krijn, including the bulge above his right eyebrow where the tumour sat. 

“Luckily, it’s a very distinctive piece,” Adrue Kennis, a paleoanthropological artist with Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions, said of the skull specimen in a translated video created by the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in the Netherlands, which is showing Krijn’s bust in a new exhibit.

When Krijn was alive, between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago, he lived in Doggerland, a vast swath of land between the United Kingdom and continental Europe, which is now submerged beneath the North Sea.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Human Evolution revealed a few details about Krijn: The young man was highly carnivorous, but his body didn’t show any evidence of seafood in his diet, according to an analysis of the isotopes, or element variants, of carbon and nitrogen found in his skull.

Moreover, a lesion above Krijn’s eyebrow indicated that he had a tumour known as an intradiploic epidermoid cyst.

These cysts are uncommon, slow-growing lesions that are usually benign, especially when they’re small, as Krijn’s is, the 2009 study found. The conduction is associated with a slew of symptoms.

It’s possible that Krijn experienced pain and swelling, headaches, dizziness, convulsions, visual problems or seizures, or maybe he was lucky and didn’t have any symptoms, the authors of the 2009 study wrote. That was the first time such a tumour had been documented in Neanderthal remains, they noted.

The Neanderthal skull specimen was found in sediment from the North Sea.
A facial reconstruction of the Neanderthal who lived in Doggerland between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Despite Krijn’s diagnosis, his new bust depicts him with an infectiously happy smile. The Kennis brothers recreated the Neanderthal’s features by relying not only on the skull specimen but also other Neanderthal skulls, as well as previous data on the Neanderthal eye, hair and skin colour.

The new bust is the latest from their studio, which includes other early human recreations, including one of Ötzi the Iceman mummy, who lived about 5,300 years ago in the Alps.

Krijn may be smiling for another reason; he’s the first fossil hominin dating to the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) found under seawater and the first recorded Neanderthal in the Netherlands, according to the 2009 study.

A menagerie of animals, including mammoths, lions, woolly rhinoceroses, reindeer and horses used to live on the Doggerland steppe, but it was very cold, meaning that Krijn likely had a challenging life, according to an RMO statement.

In addition to Krijn’s remains, scientists sifting through the North Sea sediments found several middle Paleolithic artefacts, including small hand axes and pointed stones known as Levallois flakes.

The RMO exhibit “Doggerland: Lost World in the North Sea,” which includes Krijn’s bust, is open to the public through Oct. 31. 

Anglo-Saxon Silver Brooch Recovered in England

Anglo-Saxon Silver Brooch Recovered in England

A metal detectorist who found a rare early-medieval silver brooch has said it was his most “incredible” find ever. The Trewhiddle-style brooch found on farmland at Cheddar in Somerset features detailed interlace decorations with animals thought to be peacocks.

Detectorist Iain Sansome said it was “incredible” to think the treasure used as a symbol of wealth and high status was last held 1,000 years ago.

Somerset Council hopes to keep it in the county once it has been valued.

Mr Sansome added in all of his years of metal detecting this find was “in a different league”.

“When I first saw the brooch I wasn’t exactly sure what it was but I knew it was something special,” he said.

“The fact that the last person to handle it was probably someone of extreme importance and high status over 1,000 years ago is just incredible.”

The South West Heritage Trust conducted a follow-up investigation at the find site but no further significant discoveries were made.

Dr Maria Kneafsey from the Portable Antiquities Scheme said early medieval examples of the brooches were “rare”.

“The fact that no further significant objects were found suggests that the brooch was lost or discarded into the water, rather than deliberately buried,” she said.

The disc brooch dates back to between 800 and 900AD was declared as treasure at an inquest held at Taunton Coroner’s Court in August.

Iain Sansome said the find was “incredible”

2,000-year-old Roman sewage system unearthed in southwestern Turkey

2,000-year-old Roman sewage system unearthed in southwestern Turkey

2,000-year-old Roman sewage system unearthed in southwestern Turkey
It reveals Roman architecture, engineering, head of excavation teams says

The Anadolu Agency reports that a Roman-era sewerage system was discovered in southwestern Turkey’s ancient city of Tripolis by a team of researchers led by Bahadir Duman of Pamukkale University. 

The excavation uncovered a 2,000-year-old sewage system in southwestern Turkey.

The Roman-era sewage system, 160 centimetres (5.2 feet) in height and 70 centimetres (2.3 feet) wide were discovered in the ancient city of Tripolis in the Buldan district of the Denizli province, said Bahadir Duman, head of the excavation team and a lecturer at the Archeology Department of the Pamukkale University.

“The gigantic sewage system has dimensions that a person can easily enter and walk in,” said Duman.

Noting that the sewerage system reveals the Roman architecture and engineering, he said: “The difference between the system in Tripolis and the others is that the sewers have been preserved until today.

The main sewage system is one of the rare examples. Thus, it’s important.”

‘I don’t care: text shows modern poetry began much earlier than believed

‘I don’t care’: text shows modern poetry began much earlier than believed

New research into a little-known text written in ancient Greek shows that “stressed poetry,” the ancestor of all modern poetry and song, was already in use in the 2nd Century CE, 300 years earlier than previously thought. In its shortest version, the anonymous four-line poem reads “they say what they like; let them say it; I don’t care.” Other versions extend with “Go on, love me; it does you good.”

The poem inscribed on a cameo on a medallion of glass paste (2nd to 3rd century CE) found in a sarcophagus around the neck of a deceased young woman in what is now Hungary.

The experimental verse became popular across the Eastern Roman Empire and survives because, as well as presumably being shared orally, it has been found inscribed on twenty gemstones and as a graffito in Cartagena, Spain.

By comparing all of the known examples for the first time, Cambridge’s Professor Tim Whitmarsh (Faculty of Classics) noticed that the poem used a different form of meter to that usually found in ancient Greek poetry. As well as showing signs of the long and short syllables characteristic of traditional “quantitative” verse, this text employed stressed and unstressed syllables.

Until now, “stressed poetry” of this kind has been unknown before the fifth century when it began to be used in Byzantine Christian hymns.

Professor Whitmarsh says: “You didn’t need specialist poets to create this kind of musicalized language, and the diction is very simple, so this was a clearly a democratizing form of literature. We’re getting an exciting glimpse of a form of oral pop culture that lay under the surface of classical culture.”

The new study, published in The Cambridge Classical Journal, also suggests that this poem could represent a “missing link” between the lost world of ancient Mediterranean oral poetry and song, and the more modern forms that we know today.

The poem, unparalleled so far in the classical world, consists of lines of 4 syllables, with a strong accent on the first and a weaker on the third. This allows it to slot into the rhythms of numerous pop and rock songs, such as Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Whitmarsh says: “We’ve known for a long time that there was popular poetry in ancient Greek, but a lot of what survives takes a similar form to traditional high poetics. This poem, on the other hand, points to a distinct and thriving culture, primarily oral, which fortunately for us in this case also found its way onto a number of gemstones.”

Asked why the discovery hasn’t been made before, Whitmarsh says: “These artefacts have been studied in isolation. Gemstones are studied by one set of scholars, the inscriptions on them by another. They haven’t been seriously studied before as literature. People looking at these pieces are not usually looking for changes in metrical patterns.”

Whitmarsh hopes that scholars of the medieval period will be pleased: “It confirms what some medievalists had suspected, that the dominant form of Byzantine verse developed organically out of changes that came about in classical antiquity.”

In its written form (which shows some minor variation), the poem reads:

Λέγουσιν: They say

θέλουσινWhat they like

λεγέτωσαν: Let them say it

οὐ μέλι μοι: I don’t care

σὺ φίλι με: Go on, love me

συνφέρι σοι: It does you good

The gemstones on which the poem was inscribed were generally agate, onyx or sardonyx, all varieties of chalcedony, an abundant and relatively inexpensive mineral across the Mediterranean region.

‘I don’t care’: text shows modern poetry began much earlier than believed
The poem is preserved in a graffito from an upper-storey room in Cartagena Spain (2nd to 3rd century CE).

Archaeologists found the most beautiful and best-preserved example around the neck of a young woman buried in a sarcophagus in what is now Hungary. The gem is now held in Budapest’s Aquincum Museum.

Whitmarsh believes that these written accessories were mostly bought by people from the middle ranks of Roman society. He argues that the distribution of the gemstones from Spain to Mesopotamia sheds new light on an emerging culture of “mass individualism” characteristic of our own late-capitalist consumer culture.

The study points out that “they say what they like; let them say it; I don’t care” is almost infinitely adaptable, to suit practically any countercultural context. The first half of the poem would have resonated as a claim to philosophical independence: the validation of an individual perspective in contrast to popular belief. But most versions of the text carry an extra two lines which shift the poem from speaking abstractly about what “they” say to a more dramatic relationship between “you” and the “me.” The text avoids determining a specific scenario but the last lines strongly suggest something erotic.

The meaning could just be interpreted as “show me affection and you’ll benefit from it” but, Whitmarsh argues, the words that “they say” demand to be reread as an expression of society’s disapproval of an unconventional relationship. The poem allowed people to express a defiant individualism, differentiating them from trivial gossip, the study suggests. What mattered instead was the genuine intimacy shared between “you” and “me,” a sentiment which was malleable enough to suit practically any wearer.

Such claims to anticonformist individuality were, however, pre-scripted, firstly because the ‘careless’ rhetoric was borrowed from high literature and philosophy, suggesting that the owners of the poetic gems did, after all, care what the classical litterati said. And secondly, because the gemstones themselves were mass-produced by workshops and exported far and wide.

Whitmarsh says: “I think the poem appealed because it allowed people to escape local pigeon-holing, and claim participation in a network of sophisticates who ‘got’ this kind of playful, sexually-charged discourse.”

“The Roman Empire radically transformed the classical world by interconnecting it in all sorts of ways. This poem doesn’t speak to an imposed order from the Imperial elite but a bottom-up pop culture that sweeps across the entire empire. The same conditions enabled the spread of Christianity; and when Christians started writing hymns, they would have known that poems in this stressed form resonated with ordinary people.”

Whitmarsh made his discovery after coming across a version of the poem in a collection of inscriptions and tweeting that it looked a bit like a poem but not quite. A Cambridge colleague, Anna Lefteratou, a native Greek speaker, replied that it reminded her of some later medieval poetry.

Whitmarsh says: “That prompted me to dig under the surface and once I did that these links to Byzantine poetry became increasingly clear. It was a lockdown project really. I wasn’t doing the normal thing of flitting around having a million ideas in my head. I was stuck at home with a limited number of books and re-reading obsessively until I realized this was something really special.”

There is no global catalogue of ancient inscribed gemstones and Whitmarsh thinks there may be more examples of the poem in public and private collections, or waiting to be excavated.

Gigantic Hand of Hercules could be From the Tallest Marble Statue Ever Made

Gigantic Hand of Hercules could be From the Tallest Marble Statue Ever Made

One glance at the giant hand is enough to recognize it was once part of a true masterpiece created by ancient builders. The hand belonged most likely to a massive statue of Hercules himself.

How and why the giant statue of Hercules was destroyed is unclear, but we can assume it was due to the region’s periodic catastrophic earthquakes.

There are many stories of Hercules, the Greek hero who was the son of Zeus. Whether he existed or not is unknown, but since he was worshipped in many temples all over Greece and Rome, one can suspect he was a real being.

Gigantic Hand of Hercules could be From the Tallest Marble Statue Ever Made
Partial view of the giant hand of Herkules.

The Temple Of Hercules, situated in the Forum Boarium on the eastern bank of the Tiber, is one of the oldest extant buildings in Rome, Italy.

Constructed between 162-166 CE during Marcus Aurelius’ Roman occupation of Amman’s Citadel, the temple is purported to be the work of the Greek architect Hermodoros of Salamina, who engineered a circular layout of 20 Corinthian columns orbiting around a central cylindrical stone block.

In ancient times, it was a huge place of worship. The great temple is larger than any in Rome itself.

Its portico faces east and is surrounded by six 33-foot-tall columns. Measuring 100-feet-long by 85-feet-wide with an outer sanctum of 400-by-236-feet, the fact that the rest of the temple remained unadorned by columns suggests to scholars that the structure was never completed, for reasons history has yet to reveal.

When archaeologists excavated the site, they discovered very few clues that could shed more light on why the mysterious and giant Temple of Hercules and the massive statue were destroyed. This abandoned place was once of great importance, but very little is known about its past.

Ruins of the Temple of Hercules in Amman

The three gigantic fingers, one elbow, and some scattered coins have led archaeologists to conclude that these marble body parts belonged to Hercules himself a massive statue of Hercules himself. It is, therefore, logical to assume that the temple was also dedicated to him.

If the remarkable statue had survived, it would have measured upwards of 40-feet high, which would have placed it among the largest known marble statues to have ever existed.

The mighty statue of Hercules is gone, but the marble components of the Temple of Hercules have endured considerable deterioration over the two millennia.

A model of the temple of Hercules.

In 1996, the Temple of Hercules was placed on the World Monuments Watch.