Deep in the heart of Saudi Arabia, 400 mysterious stone structures have been discovered, dating back thousands of years ago. These stone features were found by archaeologists with the use of satellite imagery, identifying what they call stone “gates” in an inhospitable area.
The stone structures, nicknamed “gates” due to their resemblance of field gates from satellite images, are clustered around the volcanic region of Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia. As of now, researchers have more questions than answers regarding what these structures were used for, who built them, how old are they, and their meaning.
On top of these fields are roughly built and low stone walls, suggesting they weren’t used to retain cattle. In fact, some of the walls mimic an “I” shape while others are rectangular. The largest of the walls reach almost 1,700 feet long. It’s unclear who built these gates but they are the oldest and one of the very few man-made structures in this remote part of Saudi Arabia. We also know that the stones were built during active volcanism and that some of the walls are covered in newer flows, meaning the wall predates some of the volcanic flows.
So why did ancient people in Saudi Arabia built gates on top of volcanic fields in the remote desert? The research team of archaeologists admits with the current amount of evidence, it’s hard to know for sure. The team found other stone structures, including stone “kites” used to hunt animals and wheels. However, it’s hard to fully piece together the story while being thousands of miles away and relying solely on satellite imagery.
The team will soon publish their research in the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the saying goes. The next steps will be to lead an archaeological survey of the area, allowing the research team to collect samples and inspect the gates more closely. They will be able to carbon age date the lava fields and potentially the stone walls to determine the timing of construction. In addition, they may find more examples of what these strange people were like in this remote region of Saudi Arabia.