Heap of the Wild Cat

Rogem Hiri (Rujm al-Hiri in Arabic, meaning stone heap of the wild cat) is one of the most intriguing archeological sites in Israel.

The megalithic complex is located in the central Golan, on the Golan trail, near Daliyot reservoir (32.908705°N 35.800705°E). It consists of four concentric circles of local basalt fieldstones (42,000 stones are the estimated number) of varying sizes enclosing a central, round cairn. The outer, largest circle is about 500 meters long and 156 meter in diameter. Several radial walls connect the circular walls, creating a labyrinth-like structure which has only two entryways, one facing northeast, the other southeast. At the center of the circles is a cairn, an irregular mound of stones 20-25 meters in diameter and preserved to a height of 6 meters. A geophysical survey using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) revealed the pile of stones to be hollow suggesting that it might be a burial chamber, a monumental commemorative tomb or the mausoleum of an Early Bronze Age ruler in the Golan.

Rogem Hiri, RogemHiri, megalithic complex in Golan (photo from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website)

Rogem Hiri, Heap of the Wild Cat, megalithic complex in Golan (photo: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website)

Archaeologists have proposed a variety of theories concerning the function of this structure, which has no parallel in the Middle East: a religious center; a defensive enclosure; a large burial complex; a center for astronomical observation, a sort of Middle Eastern Stonehenge since the northeastern entryway is roughly oriented towards the solstitial sunrise on 21 June and a calendrical device. The structure was even identified as the tomb of Og, King of the Bashan and last of the giants (see Deuteronomy 3:11).

The structure is not easy to appreciate from the ground so wouldn’t it be great to fly over it in a hot air balloon or glider?

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6 thoughts on “Heap of the Wild Cat

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