It is an unusual road network. It dates back 4,500 years and contains nearly 18,000 tombs. What is it? It is the burial city under Saudi Arabia. The find sheds light on the burial rituals of that time.
The funerary city consists of several avenues, the longest of which measures 170 kilometers. There are thousands of stone tombs in the form of pendant or ring tombs up to two meters high. What is the area of the archaeological site? It covers more than 22,500 square kilometers. It is well known to local residents. But this is the first time it has received scientific recognition.
“People living in these areas have known about them for thousands of years. But it was not known how widespread they are. When we got satellite images they knew.” Matthew Dalton of the University of Western Australia tells the story.
Some of the avenue was delineated with stones. And some of the routes were formed naturally by people and domestic animals passing through. They linked several oases and served as a kind of road network. “You could travel a distance of at least 530 kilometers from north to south,” Dalton points out.
The contents of the burials are, in general, in very poor condition. Some of the tombs were even looted. “It is not difficult to imagine that the tombs were used to commemorate the deceased.” As for the buildings themselves, they are in a very good state of preservation.
The funerary city was built at the same time as the Egyptian pyramids and Mesopotamian ziggurats. But it is unlikely that they served as inspiration for this construction.
“We believe this phenomenon was due to autochthonous development,” Dalton opined. Australian archaeologists excavated 80 burials for analysis. They hope the find will shed more light on ancient burial traditions. The burial city under Saudi Arabia has not told its last secret.