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Jebel Hafit Stone Patterns

Text and photographs by Brien Holmes

On the plain on the east side of Jebel Hafit, there are several areas covered in small, shallow piles of stones that form indecipherable patterns.

  • One area with a small concentration of piles
  • It is impossible to date the piles
  • Area with only small piles irregularly spaced
  • The piles are a mystery
  • The edge of one of the larger areas
  • There are no pottery sherds among the stones
  • Piles evenly spaced but not in straight lines
  • An area where small circular piles are common
  • Some of the piles are larger than others
  • Area kilometer from the base of Hafit
  • photo series panning from S through W to N
  • View approximately south-west
  • A small shallow wadi cuts through the patterns
  • View northwest, a deep wadi on the right
  • View almost due west towards the Hafit tombs
  • From the low hill, the larger piles are evident
  • One of the smaller rectangles
  • Smaller rectangle with other shapes in distance
  • One of the longer rectangles
  • One figure that has a distinct hourglass shape
  • Long curving rectangle (left)
  • View across some of the more complex shapes
  • A crescent-shaped figure
  • A unique-shaped pattern with reconstructed tombs
  • One pattern that appears like a lower leg and foot
  • A set of odd-shaped patterns close together
  • One of the long rectangles
  • Small piles framed by rectangles
  • View across a concentration of small piles
  • View towards Wadi Tarabat
  • Degraded piles in the foreground?
  • Area between piles is clear of fist-sized stones
  • Mix of circles, rectangles and other shapes
  • Detail of one small pile
  • Detail of one small pile
  • View back towards Mezyad
  • Another set of parallel rectangles
  • What appears to be a question mark
  • A large tear-shaped pile
  • View from one boundary back towards the small hill
  • Explanation? Residents piled stones for sale
  • Mix of material, though predominantly limestone
  • Small circular piles with vehicle for scale
  • Piles appear relatively undamaged despite tracks
  • Numerous concentrations on plain E side of Hafit

There are a few theories in circulation to explain these piles of stones but none of the explanations put forward yet seem entirely credible. With the area slated to be developed into a wildlife reserve, part of a national park, it is hoped research will be completed on the stones before development proceeds.

There are several concentrations of the piles, some relatively small, some covering a vast area. The piles, often a few dozen stones piled into a small circular pile, number in the hundreds, if not more. Some of the stones are piled into regular shapes like rectangles while, in other cases, the shapes are curved. In one area, there are, for example, rectangles arranged in parallel lines.

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Jebel Hafit Stone Patterns on Google Earth

The patterns are visible using Google Earth imagery, though admittedly the patterns are faint.

  • Google Earth image of one area
  • B&W version makes faint pattern lines visible
  • Negative view makes some patterns more obvious
  • A color swap may also make the patterns visible
  • Circles around some of the visible patterns

In the five photographs above, a Google Earth image of the area where most of the photographs above were taken, some of the patterns are visible, though not obvious. For orientation, some of the photographs above were taken from a low hill; that hill is the dark oval in the center top of the image. The sequence of photographs above were taken from the top of that low hill beginning with a view looking to the bottom right of the picture and ending with a view towards a point at about 10 o'clock on the image.

In the second, third and fourth photographs below, the image was converted to black-and-white, then the negative version, and finally a color-swap in an effort to make some of the patterns more visible.

In the last photograph, some of the patterned areas are circled.


Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan