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Hundreds of Mysterious Stone ‘Gates’ Found in Saudi Arabia’s Desert

Google Earth has unlocked the gates to ancient mysteries around the world.


Archaeologists have uncovered nearly 400 previously undocumented stone structures they call “gates” in the Arabian desert that they believe may have been built by nomadic tribes thousands of years ago.

For years, amateur and professional archaeologists have used the search engine’s satellite imagery to discover mysterious earthworks in Kazakhstan, Roman ruins, a forgotten fortress in Afghanistan and more. In the past decade, Google Earth also has helped identify thousands of burial sites and other “works of the old men,” as they’re called, scattered across Saudi Arabia.

“We tend to think of Saudi Arabia as desert, but in practice there’s a huge archaeological treasure trove out there and it needs to be identified and mapped,” said David Kennedy, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia and author of a paper set to appear in the November issue of the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy.

 “You can’t see them very well from the ground level, but once you get up a few hundred feet, or with a satellite even higher, they stand out beautifully.”

Archaeologists think ancient nomadic tribes used the kites, which can be more than a mile long, for hunting. The structure’s two long converging walls would funnel stampedes of gazelles into the body of the kite, where they would be slaughtered.

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“We would have loved to fly across into Saudi Arabia to take images. But you never get the permission,” he said. “And then along comes Google Earth.”

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October 31, 2017


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