Mystery stone ‘gates’ discovered in remote Saudi Arabian desert

1 / 4
Nearly 400 stone structures, nicknamed “gates” because they resembled field gates from satellite images discovered in the volcanic region of Harrat Khaybar in Saudi Arabia. (Google Earth)
2 / 4
Above, a volcanic mound in Saudi Arabia. (Google Earth)
3 / 4
Above, a ground view of Samhah Gate 31. (Grant Scroggie / The New York Times)
4 / 4
Above, a ground view of Samhah Gate 31. (Grant Scroggie / The New York Times)
Updated 21 October 2017
0

Mystery stone ‘gates’ discovered in remote Saudi Arabian desert

DUBAI: Archaeologists have discovered mystery stone structures dating back thousands of years in the Arabian desert, which they believe have been built by nomadic tribes.
The nearly 400 stone structures, nicknamed “gates” because they resembled field gates from satellite images, were clustered around the volcanic region of Harrat Khaybar in Saudi Arabia.
And researchers were perplexed as to what these structures were used for and who built them, or if they were the earliest “Works of the Old Men,” pertaining to ancient geoglyphs that stretch from Syria to 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 Dr. David Kennedy, an archaeology professor at the University of Western Australia, in an article from The New York Times.
“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.”
A paper authored Dr. Kennedy is set to appear in the November issue of the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy.
Dr. Kennedy has been studying the angular and wheel-like structures scattered over Jordan’s lava field, or harrat, since 1997 but did not have the opportunity to look more closely at the ancient structures in neighboring Saudi Arabia because of access restrictions.
“We would have loved to fly across into Saudi Arabia to take images. But you never get the permission,” Dr. Kennedy said. “And then along comes Google Earth.”
The mystery of the stone structures started in 2004 when Dr. Abdullah Al-Saeed, a neurologist and founder of the Desert Team, a group of amateur archaeologists in Saudi Arabia, explored the lava fields of Harrat Khaybar. He saw walls of stones stacked about three feet high, but said that he did not appreciate their unique design at that time.
Then the break came in 2008 when Dr. Al-Saaed went back to the same spot using Google Earth.
“When I saw the updated images of Harrat Khaybar from Google Earth, I was literally stunned and could not sleep that night,” Dr. Al-Saeed said. “Flying like a bird all over the Harrat from one enigmatic structure to another! How come we passed by these structures without appreciating their design?”
Further investigation and some Google images sent to archaeologists such Dr. Kennedy received bewildering feedbacks.
“Absolute bafflement.”
That’s what Dr. Kennedy said he felt when he first saw the satellite images, as was confronted with structures quite different from anything he had ever seen before.
Varying in size, the longest gate measures more than half a kilometer, while the shortest is just 13 meters and the spaces between them differing from miles apart to “almost touching.”
Dr. Kennedy has spent almost a decade cataloging nearly 400 gates and hoped his next step would be to lead a research team that would collect samples to carbon age the lava fields, and even the stone walls to determine the timing of their construction.
“More will be found as more people get involved in scouring the landscape from satellite imagery,” he said.


Hijab support group nabs Facebook award

The group supports women who wear a hijab. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 min 32 sec ago
0

Hijab support group nabs Facebook award

  • The Facebook group “Surviving Hijab” is set to receive a Facebook Fellowship Award
  • The group was created by Manal Rostom, the first-ever athlete to compete wearing a Nike Pro Hijab

DUBAI: The Facebook group “Surviving Hijab,” which aims to support women who wear the covering, is set to receive Facebook Fellowship Award, it was announced this week.



Out of more than 6000 applicants, @survivinghijabinitiative was chosen due to its ever-expanding community and positive aim. They will be receiving monetary support to grow and help more hijab-wearing woman around the world.



The social media platform was created by Manal Rostom, the first-ever athlete to compete in a major competition sporting a Nike Pro Hijab.

View this post on Instagram

2/3 BIG ANNOUNCEMENT Some may have tried to ban us from pools, others denied us jobs, but one thing they couldn’t do, was to keep us quiet. . . . That’s why I @manirostom started this group, in her own words, “This is why I started Surviving Hijab to support one another and to get support myself.” . . . #repost @manirostom . . . Today I am proud to announce Out of 6000 applications submitted to Facebook’s Community Leadership Program, last year, @survivinghijab initiative has been chosen as a Fellow where as a booming community on Facebook with over 650K women from all around the world , we will be receiving monetary support to grow and flourish even more as a Support Community of Hijab-babes around the world. . This is a *HUGE* moment for us as a community that strives to smash stereotypes and break glass ceilings. To every Hijabi girl who has been humiliated, denied access to restaurants, pools, hotels and denied jobs - today , this Award is for you. . One massive thank you goes to @facebook for giving us a voice and for giving us a platform and another massive thank you to @chrissharb & the rest of the Facebook Team for having our back throughout this process. And of course a huge thank you to the ladies of the Surviving Hijab who keep it alive everyday @malowaishi @mahaelnemer @faridaelsharkawy @coveredinlayers @hibaaitanii

A post shared by Surviving Hijab®️ (@survivinghijab) on



Manal took to Instagram and wrote: “This is a *HUGE* moment for us as a community that strives to smash stereotypes and break glass ceilings. To every hijabi girl who has been humiliated, denied access to restaurants, pools, hotels and denied jobs — today, this award is for you...To speak up LOUDER, STRONGER and have NO FEAR to stand up for your right…Thank you @Facebook for giving us a voice and for giving us a platform to express ourselves with a mere objective to change the world (sic).”



The Facebook community leadership program was created to inspire and give a platform to community global leaders and support them through monetary means.