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In discussing the possibility of ‘lost civilisations’, the question is often asked – could evidence of such civilisations lie hidden beneath ground (and water), just out of our gaze? A new discovery shows that this is entirely possible (although the monument in this case is ascribed to an already known civilisation): a recently discovered paper has revealed that an enormous monument has been “hiding in plain sight” just a half a mile from the centre of one of the most important, and busy, archaeological treasures of the world: the World Heritage site of Petra.

The newly revealed structure consists of a 184-by-161-foot (about 56-by-49-meter) platform that encloses a slightly smaller platform originally paved with flagstones. The east side of the interior platform had been lined with a row of columns that once crowned a monumental staircase.

A small 28-by-28-foot (8.5-by-8.5-meter) building was centered north-south atop the interior platform and opened to the east, facing the staircase.

This enormous open platform, topped with a relatively small building and approached by a monumental facade, has no known parallels to any other structure in Petra. It most likely had a public, ceremonial function, which may make it the second largest elevated, dedicated display area yet known in Petra after the Monastery.

Archaeologists used high-resolution satellite imagery, aerial drone photography, and subsequent ground surveys to locate and explore the structure.

Paper:Hiding in Plain Sight: The Discovery of a New Monumental Structure at Petra, Jordan, Using WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 Satellite Imagery