Project Abstract : the "kite phenomenon"

“Desert kites”, dry-stone constructions comprising long convergent walls ending in an enclosed area, are known since the 1920s. They made the object of rather numerous studies (e.g. Helms & Betts 1987; Échallier & Braemer 1995) but isolated and at a regional scale only. Additionally, researchers were regularly faced with a scarcity of archaeological material, which often had no clear stratigraphic relationship to the kites. Thus, apart from a few isolated cases (Holzer et al. 2010), issues such as dating kites and understanding their function have not been satisfactorily resolved.

Within the last few years, the number of inventoried kites has increased fivefold, and the known distribution zone has been greatly extended, both in the Near East and in outlying regions. The current inventory realized by the Globalkites’ team is more than 4600 kites (see the GeoExplorer GLOBALKITES Interactive Map).

It thus become clear that the kites phenomenon was more influential than previously understood: it raises questions about kites’ origins via diffusion or cultural convergence. The human-animal relationships mediated by these constructions have both ecological implications, such as the environmental impact of these activities, and economic implications, such as territorial demarcation and control. In order to better understand the newly recognized extent of this phenomenon, the Globalkites project gathers archaeologists, geo-archeologists, geomatic specialists and archaeozoologists in order to implement an interdisciplinary approach never used before in the studies of kites.