Google Earth Reveals Ancient Archeological Bonanza in Saudi Arabia

71129778_60a0b44d2c Almost two thousand potential archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia have been discovered from an office chair in Perth, Australia, thanks to Google Earth's 2.5-meter-resolution imagery taken from the SPOT 5 satellite. "I've never been to Saudi Arabia," says David Kennedy from the University of Western Australia, Australia. "It's not the easiest country to break into."

Instead Kennedy scanned 1240 square kilometres in Saudi Arabia using Google Earth. From their birds-eye view he found 1977 potential archaeological sites, including 1082 "pendants" – ancient tear-drop shaped tombs made of stone.


According to Kennedy, aerial photography of Saudi Arabia is not made available to most archaeologists, and it's difficult, if not impossible, to fly over the nation. "But, Google Earth can outflank them," he says.

Kennedy confirmed that the sites were vestiges of an ancient life – rather than vegetation or shadow – by asking a friend in Saudi Arabia, who is not an archaeologist, to drive out to two of the sites and photograph them confirming the sites as man-made artifacts.

By comparing the images with structures that Kennedy has seen in Jordan, he believes the sites may be up to 9000 years old, but ground verification is needed. "Just from Google Earth it's impossible to know whether we have found a Bedouin structure that was made 150 years ago, or 10,000 years ago," he says.

In a similar discovery. researchers from Melbourne, Australia, found 463 potential sites in the Registan desert in Afghanistan in 2008 using the desktop computer program.
 
The Daily Galaxy via Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2011.01.003

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