Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Researchers have discovered a network of military structures and remains in northern Syria dating to 4,000 years ago.
The ancient surveillance and communication network was discovered a team of French and Syrian researchers who meticulously examined satellite and aerial imagery of the region's rocky terrain. The team detailed their discovery in a paper published this week in the French journal Paléorient.
The network extends across 2,700 square miles of a region known as "Marges arides de Syrie du Nord," which translates to "margins arid northern Syria." The region's name refers to its position between the Fertile Crescent, a region rich in human history, which lies to the west, and the steppes to the east, a less hospitable place, inhabited historically by nomads.
Both aerial imagery and ground surveys revealed the presence of fortresses, small forts, towers and enclosures, all linked to form a surveillance network dating the second millennium BC. The collection of walls and forts stretches north-south for some 93 miles. The network was likely used for defense purposes -- outposts used to keep watch on threats to the citer centers and populations within.
Researchers discovered small forts constructed of large basaltic blocks, featuring walls several feet tall. Spatial analysis of the various outposts revealed a logical and strategic coherence, with each fortress offering sight-lines to other other nearby outlooks, as well as advantageous views of the surrounding terrain.
"The purpose of this regional network would have been to defend the territory, to surveil and protect transport corridors and, above all, to protect the most attractive lands," researchers wrote in a news release.