Ancient stone gates spied on Google Earth have experts confused

Researchers have found hundreds of mysterious stone 'gates' scattered throughout the Saudi Arabian desert, a discovery made possible in part thanks to satellite footage published on Google Earth. These gates aren't exactly what you're probably imaging — they're not tall structures that swing open, but instead are very large, shallow rectangles that aren't noticeable unless you're looking at them from high above.

Archaeologists have discovered about 400 of these 'gates' in the desert in Saudi Arabia thanks to Google Earth imagery. These stone rectangles weren't previously documented by researchers, and though they're estimated to be at least thousands of years old, their purpose remains a mystery. Archaeologists indicate they may have been made by nomads that had passed through the area.

Saudi Arabia continues to offer up new oddities and discoveries from the ancient world, the stone gates being the most recent among them. The gates could be as old as 9,000 years, though it is thought they're no more recent than about 2,000 years old.

One big mystery surrounding the structures are their placement — they're, in some cases, hundreds of feet long and were made in a rocky, barren region. It is an unusual place to put so much effort into such an unusual object. There are no signs indicating they were used for animals or hunting.

Though researchers aren't sure of their purpose, they have already stated that they weren't the work of extraterrestrials, hoping to stave off conspiracy theories that surround some other ancient discoveries. It is possible the 'gates' served some sort of purpose that would have been more relevant to the region as it existed thousands of years ago; a purpose that has been lost to time.

SOURCE: New York Times