Duby Tal and Moni Haramati, courtesy Masa Archer magazine, Tel Aviv

The “stone heap of the wildcat” is the enigmatic translation of Rujm el-Hiri, the Arabic name for five puzzling concentric stone circles in the Golan Heights. Radial walls connect the circles that surround a massive stone cairn over 60 feet in diameter. Two immense entrances (at one o’clock and four o’clock) interrupt the outer circle which is one-third mile in circumference, and two of the circles within it.

The structure’s original purpose has eluded archaeologists who have variously proposed that it was for ceremonies, defense, storage, burials, astronomy—or even the tomb of Og, the giant king of Bashan (Numbers 21:33–35). Author Yonathan Mizrachi suggests that the concentric circles’ first use was in about 3000 B.C.E., a date based on fragmentary ceramic remains and construction techniques. He proposes that the circles were a device to mark the June solstice when the sun rose on a line through the center of the northeast entrance. Later, in the late second millennium B.C.E., the central cairn was constructed as a burial site. A large fig tree has grown over wall 2 (lower left).