Archeologists at the World Heritage site in Petra, Jordan, have reportedly discovered a new, huge monument "hiding in plain sight." Researchers Sarah Parcak and Christopher Tuttle announced in a study published in the May Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research that, using Google Earth, drones and ground surveys, they have found a giant platform bigger than an Olympic pool, National Geographic reported Wednesday.
"It's really a remarkable find for the archeological community," National Geographic writer Kristin Romey told CNN, adding that "we knew it would pique global interest given the historic significance of this treasured site."
Petra, which is located in the southern part of Jordan, is the country's most popular attraction for tourists. Once the capital city of the Arab group the Nabateans, Petra is carved out of rock and was a hub for the silk and spice trade during the Hellenistic and Roman periods starting in 323 BC, according to its page on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage website. It's famous for its tombs, architecture, dams, tunnels and water transport system.
Parcak and Tuttle wanted to find out how the Nabateans changed the land, according to Smithsonian Magazine. They combed through old research, employed satellite imagery and uncovered a 184-by-161-foot platform about a half a mile away from the city's center. It once had a small monument on top.
The area was likely used by ancient inhabitants for ceremonies, but more research is needed to know exactly what kind, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
"I'm sure that over the course of two centuries of research [in Petra], someone had to know [this site] was there, but it's never been systematically studied or written up," Tuttle told National Geographic. "I've worked in Petra for 20 years, and I knew that something was there, but it's certainly legitimate to call this a discovery."