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Abstract

Although much information has been gathered during the last decade (as a result of archaeological excavations and satellite imaging) many unresolved issues remain about desert kites. These include the precise function of these huge archaeological stone structures which are widely distributed throughout southwestern Asia. According to the common vision, kites were hunting structures used to drive and to mass-kill large herds of wild ungulates. We qualify this view by analyzing the morphology of kites, the behavior of the targeted prey, and the logistical constraints associated with the mass-killing of ungulates. This leads us to conclude that as hunting structures, kites could also have been used for passively trapping animals. We believe it to be likely that kites were used (individually or collectively) for multiple purposes, which may have altered with the passage of time. An important use (at one stage in the existence of many kites) may have been for the mustering of livestock (especially sheep and goats), and for the capture of some wild or feral species of animals suitable for domestication. Some kites may also have been utilized for religious purposes or for cultural ceremonies.

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