In the first issue of Antiquity, RAF Flight Lieutenant Maitland (1927) published archaeological features he observed while flying the Cairo to Baghdad mail route, including a basalt-capped 'mesa' or flat-topped plateau (ghura in the local Arabic) located approximately 60km east-southeast of Azraq, which he thought resembled a Welsh Iron Age hillfort. Rising up approximately 50m above the wadi floor, Maitland's 'Mesa' is one of a dozen Miocene basalt-capped ghuras in a string along the western edge of Wadi al-Qattafi. Most of these exhibit at least one large basalt tomb on top. Maitland's 'Mesa', however, has, in addition to a large chambered tomb, a series of more than 50 large rectangular chambered cairns that form a chain along the southern edge of the plateau, creating a castellation effect that would appear similar to a defensive structure. In addition, both the top of the plateau and the slopes include corrals, cells (huts?) and tombs.
Sounds like a place that HAD to be visited! Well, it surpassed our expectations. Sleeping in an animal pen that might have been constructed 10000 years ago, no lights to be seen anywhere and a star studded sky. On top of the Mesa you just keep wondering who these people were and how they lived.
© Henk Bos. Any use of this image without permission is a violation of the copyright.