Trackways, revealed by CORONA images, have much to teach us about society in the Early Bronze Age (2600-2000 BC), during which time Mesopotamia saw the rise of densely populated settlements featuring elaborate structures such as palaces and temples—the first cities.
The extensive network of over 6,025 kilometers (3,744 miles) of trackways shows the vibrant movement in the landscapes between and around these cities. These trackways formed around ancient settlements as the result of continuous human and animal traffic between the central settlement and the fields and pastures lying beyond it. Thus, trackways illustrate the new importance and intensity of agriculture and animal husbandry in the Early Bronze Age.
Visible now are not the roads themselves, but rather surviving traces of ancient pathways—hollow ways, which are shallow, linear depressions in the land. They can be distinguished on CORONA photographs by their dark, banded appearance, as millennia of disuse have transformed them into shallow troughs that absorb light differently than the surrounding terrain. In recent decades, many hollow ways have been destroyed by plowing and irrigation, and they survive only in these photographs.