Move to heighten awareness of Saudi Arabia antiquities

Updated 15 November 2017
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Move to heighten awareness of Saudi Arabia antiquities

LONDON: Archaeologists flocked to Riyadh in mid-November for an event aiming to boost understanding of Saudi Arabia’s little-known ancient past.
The Antiquities Forum held between Nov. 7-9 was the first of its kind, aiming to showcase pre-historic artefacts found in the country, as well as to highlight the role of government and the population in preserving the Kingdom’s history.
“I have never seen an archaeological convention like this,” said Michael Petraglia from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, who attended the event and has worked extensively on archaeological projects in Saudi Arabia.
“There is no doubt that there is a sea-change in Saudi Arabia in respect to the support for the place of archaeology in the region and in the culture. This is a very major public display of support for archaeology.”
Petraglia led a project known as “Green Arabia” — a joint initiative between Oxford University and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and funded by the European Research Council — which has revealed evidence of ancient waterways and lakes in Saudi Arabia capable of supporting animals such as hippos and elephants as well as early humans.
The research suggests the region has gone through a cycle of having a wet, green and humid environment to one of arid desert.
“It is a dramatic finding. People didn’t realize this and how important Arabia was as a stepping point between Africa and the rest of Eurasia,” Petraglia said.
Saudi Arabia is planning to build a number of new museums and support further archaeological research.
“The country has been developing its antiquities infrastructure,” said Huw Groucutt, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.
“There is definitely a drive to understand the ancient past of Saudi Arabia, and that is great,” he said.
Geoff Bailey, professor of archaeology at the University of York, who has been involved in Saudi Arabian projects since 2004, said: “SCTH has encouraged and greatly expanded international participation in archaeological research of all periods (Islamic, pre-Islamic, Stone Age).”
“Currently there are nearly 20 international projects of this sort, including our own,” he said.
The Antiquities Forum was held as global interest in Saudi Arabia’s past was further piqued by the publication of pictures of ancient “gates” or stone walls last month, discovered deep in the Saudi desert by the archaeologist David Kennedy, a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Western Australia.
The stone structures were spotted using Google Earth and were built around now-extinct lava lakes, and could date back as much as 9,000 years.
As yet there is no agreement on what the gates were used for. One theory is that they were used in hunting to funnel stampeding gazelle, while another suggestion is that they were a place where rituals were conducted.


Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism: Saudi deputy defense minister

Updated 24 April 2019
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Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism: Saudi deputy defense minister

  • “We have to choose between the chaos that Iran spreads and stability, security and development,” he said
  • A delegation led by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi deputy minister of defense, has arrived in Russia for an official visit on Tuesday

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman said the Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism and disrespect international laws at the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security on Wednesday.

“We have to choose between the chaos that Iran spreads and stability, security and development,” he said adding that “Iran is spreading chaos in the region through destruction and bloodshed, and by supporting the militias of Hezbollah and Houthis.”

“Houthi militias continue to violate the resolutions of the Security Council and the Stockholm Agreement, ignored UN resolution 2216 and the Gulf initiative…our goal is to achieve stability for Yemeni citizens under a legitimate government,” he said.

The deputy defense minister also said that the Kingdom is witnessing today an unprecedented transformation and development to achieve the vision 2030.

A delegation led by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi deputy minister of defense, has arrived in Russia for an official visit on Tuesday, during which the members will take part in the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security and hold a number of meetings.

Prince Khalid was welcomed by Saudi Ambassador to Russia Dr. Raed Qurmali, military adviser Maj. Gen. Talal Al-Otaibi and Military Attache Gen. Mohammad Al-Mutairi, along with the deputy chief of staff of the Russian defense ministry and other civilian and military officials.