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The mysterious structures which could date back around 7,000 years can only be appreciated from the air. Who built them and what was their purpose?
Located in the Harrat Khaybar region in Saudi Arabia are stunning gate structure dubbed as the oldest man-made structures in the landscape.
The incredible structures, only visible from the air, are believed to have been built around 7,000 years ago.
Around 400 of these mysterious stone structures adorn the landscape in the remote Saudi Arabian Desert, and archaeologists have no idea what their purpose was, why they can only be seen from the air, and who created them.
Some of these structures are more than 500 meters long and were built on top of lava domes, thousands of years ago.
So far, experts were unable to study the structure up close due to restrictions in the country, however, a leading archaeologist from Australia has recently been given special permission to fly over the enigmatic formations, obtaining the clearest yet images of the mysterious formations ever.
Archaeologist Dr. David Kennedy, from the University of Western Australia, has spent more than two decades studying the ‘Works of the Old Men,’ as they were dubbed by the local Bedouin population when asked about the mystery formations in the 1920s.
In an article published in Live Science, he said that the overflight of his helicopter could be the first systematic archaeological aerial reconnaissance ever made in that Arab country.
Curiously in many cases, the structures which include structures that eerily resemble gates, kites, pendants, and keyholes are revealed only when seen from above, just as the famous Nazca Lines in Peru.
Scholars believe that fresh aerial photography combined with fieldwork at the structures could lead to breakthrough discoveries.
Flying in a Saudi Royal Commission helicopter, Dr. Kennedy spent a total of fifteen hours in the sky exploring around 200 sites of interest and snapping a staggering 6,000 images of the mystery formations.
“The number of high-resolution “windows” on Google Earth has increased rapidly, especially since the launch of the Landsat 8 satellite in February 2013. Google Earth will remain a useful tool for prospection. It is simple to “pin” and catalog sites, measure them, sketch them and generate distribution maps for interpretation,” wrote Dr. Kennedy in an article for Live Science.
“The limitations are equally obvious, however. The imagery is two-dimensional, and even the best resolution can be very fuzzy when enlarged. Detail is missing, and some sites are effectively invisible for various reasons. And imagery may be months, or even years, old and thus less valuable for routine monitoring, explained Dr. Kennedy.”
The mysterious structures were built across lava domes in a region that is now inhospitable. However, experts say that when the structures were built, thousands of years ago, the area would have been much more hospitable than it is now.
Some of the structures show evidence of lava flow on top of them which indicates that the structures are older than the lava flows.
The next step in solving the mystery behind the so-called Gates is to study the structures on the ground.