For almost a century, aerial photographers have been documenting mysterious, millennia-old structures built from low walls of stone in the rocky lava fields, known as harrat, in Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
This desert region, blistered with volcanic mounds, is nearly devoid of life.
But seen from above, the barren ground is covered with massive, interlocking geoglyphs that take the form of abstract arrow shapes called “kites” and rough rectangles called “gates.”
University of Western Australia archaeologist David Kennedy became interested in the structures after discovering how easy they were to track using Google Earth. He’d seen some of the kites while doing fieldwork in Jordan and realized that the structures continued into Saudi Arabia. “We would have loved to fly across into Saudi Arabia to take images.
But you never get the permission,” he told the New York Times. “And then along comes Google Earth.” Now Kennedy has a paper about the rectangular gate structures in a forthcoming issue of Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy.
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