Ancient lava field walls mystify archaeologists in Saudi Arabia

Ancient lava field walls mystify archaeologists in Saudi Arabia

The archaeologists refer to them as "gates" because of the resemblance they bear to garden gates when viewed from above - but their objective, and age, remains unknown.

Abdullah Al-Saeed, founder of the Desert Team, a group of amateur archaeologists in Saudi Arabia, explored the lava field in the kingdom.

Some 400 structures, known as "gates" due to their long, rectangular shape, have been found in Harrat Khaybar, a volcanic field north of Medina.

These walls are quite similar in terms of structure to others that were found around the Middle East.

Writing in the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia says he believes the structures date back thousands of years to a time when the landscape was much less barren.

The archaeologists involved in the research aren't sure of the objective, or even the exact age, of these gates.

He added that they appear to be the oldest man-made structures in the region and there is no obvious explanation what objective they serve. The formations are called the "gates" because they look like old-fashioned barred gates from above.

However, when they were built, the landscape would have been more hospitable for humans. "I have argued in the article that they are the earliest of the so-called "Works of the Old Men", the stone-built structures found widely in Arabia from northern Syria to Yemen, but especially common in the lava fields", Mr Kennedy told Newsweek.

The kites, wheels and other types of stone structures were typically found to be built on top of these gate-like walls, suggesting that the gates predate these stone structures, Kennedy said.

Volcanologists Vic Camp and John Roobol mapped a lava dome in the Harrat Khaybar in the 1980s - before the gates were discovered. One of the stone structures is partially covered in hardened lava, photographs show.

Archaeologists are baffled about the goal and even the exact age of these gates, reports LiveScience.

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