Archaeologists have discovered a network of highways in Saudi Arabia that is thousands of years old, according to a CNN report.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia have conducted a large-scale investigation over the past year, including aerial surveys by helicopter, ground surveys, drilling and examination of satellite imagery.
Scientists found a 4,500-year-old road network, as well as well-preserved ancient tombs lining the roads.
In the findings published in the Holocene journal in December, they said that "funeral roads" extending over great distances in the northwest regions of Al-Ula and Khyber have not been the subject of much research until very recently.
"People who live in these areas have known about them for thousands of years," researcher Matthew Dalton told CNN. "But I think it wasn't known to many until we got satellite images of its length."
Dalton pointed out that the funeral roads, which he saw from a helicopter, extended for hundreds and perhaps even thousands of kilometers, stressing that they are similar to the same main roads that people use today.
According to the researchers, the burials on both sides of the road took the form of a necklace or ring burials. Ring tombs include a pier surrounded by a two-meter-high wall, while hanging tombs have "beautiful tails".
Using radiocarbon dating, the researchers found that these tombs dated between 2600 and 2000 BC.
The team's next step will be to do more radiocarbon dating and get back in the field, before analyzing their data.
More discoveries are likely to follow, as Dalton said the roads may extend through Yemen, especially since similar cemeteries exist in both Yemen and northern Syria.
Source: Al Hurra