A 4,500-year-old road filled with ancient tombs is discovered in Saudi Arabia
Archaeologists have unearthed a 4,500-year-old road in Saudi Arabia, filled with well-preserved ancient tombs.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia conducted an extensive investigation over the past year including helicopter aerial research, ground observation and excavation, as well as satellite image examinations.
"People living in these areas have known them for thousands of years," researcher Matthew Dalton told CNN. "But I think it was not really known how widespread they were until we got satellite imagery." Dalton said the funerary roads, which he had seen from a helicopter, stretched for hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles.
"In some cases, the graves themselves are so dense that you can not walk on the ancient road because you are surrounded by graves."
The tombs themselves are mostly in the form of pendants or ring tombs. The ring tombs include a carnation surrounded by a wall up to two meters high, while the hanging tombs have "beautiful tails".
Using radiocarbon dating, the researchers determined that a concentrated set of samples dates between 2600 and 2000 years BC, although the tombs were reused until about 1000 years ago.
"These tombs are 4,500 years old and they are still at their original height, which is really unheard of," researcher Melissa Kennedy told CNN. "So I think this is what sets Saudi Arabia in particular from the rest of the region, only the level of conservation is incredible."
The team has observed about 18,000 graves along the funerary roads, while 80 of them have been taken or excavated for research.
Researchers think that the use of roads has long preceded tombs and they are still not sure why tombs were built along the road.