The Smithsonian Museum in Washington recently held a scientific symposium on the archaeology discoveries in Saudi Arabia in which a large number of academics, researchers and specialists in archeology took part. The five-hour long symposium focused on the topics of ancient trade routes in the Arabian Peninsula.
The symposium was held on the sideline of the ongoing “Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces through the Ages” exhibition that is taking place in the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The symposium was held three days after the official opening of the exhibition, which witnessed an intensive participation by the Washington public.
The event was attended by a number of professors and archaeologists from various international universities, who expressed their opinion on the showcased archaeology exhibits, stressing that relics are reshaping the previously held concepts about the history of the Arabian Peninsula.
At the outset of the symposium, Dr. Julian Raby, director of the National Museum of Asian Art in the Smithsonian Institution, said, “The exhibition’s relics, which are presented in the United Stated for the first time, give a different picture about Saudi Arabia, which was otherwise portrayed as just a land of oil wells and vast desert; instead it has proved it to be a land of ancient civilizations and history. The first lecture was entitled, “Who were the prehistoric people of Arabia”. The lecture was delivered by Dr. James Phillips, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. He stated that, the migration of the first man from Africa had taken two routes: first through the Bab el Mandeb, and the second through the Nile Valley through the Sinai, heading to the Bekaa Valley.
Dr. Ricardo Eichmann, the German Archaeology Institute, delivered a working paper entitled, “Taema in the Context of Interregional Networks “.
Dr. Lilly Naemi, French National Institute for Scientific Research, discussed her experiences in the excavations at the Madain Saleh (Al Hijr), the first ever registered archaeology site of Saudi Arabia in the ENESCO’s World Heritage List.
Dr. Daniel Potts, professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney, presented a working paper entitled, “Hellenistic Theory and South Arabian Reality: Foundation Myths of Thaj. The symposium was concluded by Dr. Ali Al Ghabban, vice-president of SCTA for antiquities and museums, where he gave a lecture under the theme “Saudi Arabia: Crossroads of civilizations” in which he referred to the importance of the geographical location of Saudi Arabia, and supported his claims with many archaeological evidences, and indicated that ancient man had moved first from the Arabian Peninsula to the rest of the world. Dr. Al Ghabban further stated that, the Arabian Peninsula before its desertification was an ideal place for human settlement, mentioning in this context, the advanced civilization in the Neolithic Age, the so-called “Al Magar Civilization”, which confirms that the domestication of the Arabian Horse had taken place in the Arabian Peninsula 9000 years ago, according to the latest discoveries in Al Magar site.