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Addressing the Desert Kites Phenomenon and Its Global Range Through a Multi-proxy Approach

Abstract

This paper argues that the wide geographical distribution of desert kites, which are huge archaeological structures of stone visible from satellite images, must be more broadly acknowledged as a momentous factor in the study of their variability and function. This is important so that researchers can more accurately understand and interpret their impact on biodiversity, landscapes and subsistence patterns. The first results and perspectives of the Globalkites research project are discussed and presented. Often considered as hunting traps, the kites could have also been used for animal husbandry. In a broader archaeological context, where kites seem to have been operating from the Neolithic to recent historical times, we propose an interdisciplinary approach at the crossroads of anthropology (archaeology and ethnology), geomatics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geostatistics, mathematics and computerized data processing and geoarchaeological and bioarchaeological sciences (isotope studies, paleoclimatology, archaeozoology…). The principal aims of the project are to clearly articulate the variability of the structures and their relationship with the function and chronology of the kites. It is also crucial to discuss the wide distribution of these structures across the Middle East and Central Asia as a global phenomenon and the ideas that explain the dispersal and movements of people and/or traditions must be addressed.

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Acknowledgements

GLOBALKITES research (2013–2016) is financed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche, France (No. ANR-12-JSH3-0004-01, to RC). Kites shapes recognition program (2013-2016) is financed by a Labex IMU grant from the University of Lyon, France (to OB, CEB, HS, EV). We wish to thank the three reviewers for their very helpful comments, as well as Martin Makinson and Alicia Colson for English editing. For field work in Armenia, we thank Arkadi Karakhanyan, Iren Kalantaryan and Pavel Avetisyan. For field work in Kazakhstan, we thank Zhaken Taimagambetov, Renato Sala, Jean-Marc Deom and Constantin Plakhov. For a first visit in Jordan, we wish to acknowledge the help from Wael Abu-Azizeh and Mohammad Tarawneh.

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Correspondence to Rémy Crassard.

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Crassard, R., Barge, O., Bichot, CE. et al. Addressing the Desert Kites Phenomenon and Its Global Range Through a Multi-proxy Approach. J Archaeol Method Theory 22, 1093–1121 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9218-7

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Keywords

  • Desert kites
  • Arid zones
  • GIS
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Hunting
  • Pastoralism
  • Interdisciplinary research