Rub' al Khali, Arabian Peninsula
The Rub’ al Khali, or Empty Quarter, is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, covering 650,000 square kilometers and encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. The desert includes much of Saudi Arabia and parts of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Landsat 7 collected this image in 2001. With daytime temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius and dunes taller than 330 meters, the desert may be one of the most
forbidding places on Earth today. However, there is evidence of ancient lakes and wildlife. Fossils of cattle and hippos are abundant, as are flint weapons and tools. Additionally, space-based measurements uncovered evidence of ancient civilizations. Subsequent excavations uncovered a large, octagonal fortress and shards of Greek, Roman, and Syrian pottery.