Exploring the world with a swipe of a finger has been at the forefront of Google Earth for the past decade, and its latest discovery in Saudi Arabia is beyond epic.
The search engine's satellite imagery has uncovered nearly 400 undocumented stone structures in the kingdom, all associated with old lava domes believed to have been built by nomadic tribes thousands of years ago.
The structures have been dubbed "gates," due to their resemblance of field gates from satellite images. They were found around the volcanic region of Harrat Khaybar, located north of the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Hardened lava appears to have flowed over some of the gates, suggesting that the lava fields were still active at the time the structures were built.
"We tend to think of Saudi Arabia as desert, but in practice there’s a huge archaeological treasure trove out there and it needs to be identified and mapped," said David Kennedy, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia, according to the New York Times.
"You can’t see them very well from the ground level, but once you get up a few hundred feet, or with a satellite even higher, they stand out beautifully," he added.
The clusters "appear to be the oldest man-made structures in the landscape."
The mission to unravel such scattered structures has been ongoing since 1997.
Kennedy began flying planes and helicopters in 1997 over Jordan, taking photos of the structures scattered over its lava field, which he knew extends beyond Jordan's borders into countries like Saudi Arabia and Syria.
However, Kennedy was not able to capture photos of the fields of the kingdom ... but now Google Earth has done it for him.
"We would have loved to fly across into Saudi Arabia to take images. But you never get the permission," he said.
"And then along comes Google Earth."
There have been several attempts to explore the lava field of Harrat Khaybar throughout the years.
In 2004, Dr. Abdullah Al-Saeed, founder of the Desert Team, a group of amateur archaeologists in Saudi Arabia, explored the lava field in the kingdom.
At the time, he saw "walls of stones," but did not think much of them.
Four years later, he went back to the same spot via his desktop computer - and saw updated images of the field via Google Earth.
"I was literally stunned and could not sleep that night," Al-Saeed told the New York Times.
That's when he and his team flew out to Riyadh, rented a car and made it to the volcanic domes to explore the field on foot.
Now that he's documented the nearly 400 gates, he hopes to delve more into the history of the field in an attempt to unravel the historical context of the gates, including when they were built.
"More will be found as more people get involved in scouring the landscape from satellite imagery," he said.
Currently, there have been suggestions that the construction of the gates goes back 9,000 years.