How did we miss it?: Vast monument found hiding in plain sight at Petra

A monumental structure has been found “hiding in plain sight” at Petra, the ancient city carved into the cliffs of Jordan. The previously unknown structure was discovered thanks to satellite imagery from Google Earth, satellites and drones sent to photograph the World Heritage Site. It’s about as long as an Olympic pool and twice as wide and was fouind about 800m from the centre of Petra. It has one larger platform about 2,500m sq and, above it, a smaller platform which was once paved with flagstones and lined with columns topping a giant staircase.

This monumental platform has no parallels at Petra or in its hinterlands at present

Researchers Christopher Tutttle and Sarah Parcak

Pottery found near the structure suggests it could be more than 2,150 years old. Archaeologist Christopher Tuttle, who has worked at the site for about 15 years, said he and others had long suspected there was something at the site. But it was overlooked because the structure resembled terrace walls common to the city. It was only when he worked with Sarah Parcak, a so-called space archaeologist from the University of Alabama, that the structure revealed itself. She said: “Petra is a massive site, and we chose the name for our article ["Hiding in plain sight”] precisely because, even though this is less than a kilometer south of the main city, previous surveys had missed it.“