Google Earth Reveals Thousands of Tombs in Saudi Desert

Little is known about the archaeology of Saudi Arabia, as the government has historically forbid aerial photographs of the landscape and religious sensitivities have made access tricky. But Google Earth is changing that. Satellite images available via the Web-based 3-D map program show that large portions of the country hold a wealth of archaeological remains that predate Islam and may be several thousand years old.

Researchers recently discovered nearly 2,000 tombs by peering through one high-resolution “window” at a rocky lava field east of the city of Jeddah — all without having to set foot in the Saudi desert.Judging by the sheer number of stone ruins identified in Saudi Arabia, as well as in other research in Jordan, there may well be a million such sites scattered throughout the Arabian Peninsula, said David Kennedy, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia who led the study.


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