Mysterious ancient stone structures discovered in Saudi Arabia

  • 09 Dec - 15 Dec, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Mag Files

For nearly a decade, David Kennedy, with the help of Google Earth’s satellite imagery, marvelled from behind a computer screen at hundreds of mysterious stone structures scattered across the Saudi desert.

But he could not secure permission to visit the country to observe up close the ancient designs that he and amateur archaeologists studied from afar.

Last month, after announcing he had identified nearly 400 stone “gates”, Dr Kennedy was invited by Saudi officials to investigate the hidden structures from a helicopter.

“They are absolutely astonishing,” said Dr Kennedy, who retired from the University of Western Australia. “From 500 feet, you can see the vital details of structures that are invisible in the fuzzy image on Google Earth.”

He snapped more than 6,000 aerial photographs, lifting the veil on the ancient wonders.

Most of what he observed fell into the categories known as gates, kites, triangles, wheels and keyholes.

Huw Groucutt, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, said the new images can help show how human societies have modified the landscape. “The challenge now,” he said, “is to conduct work on the ground.”