Invest in science so we can unearth our place in history
Just as the potential uses of science and technology are limitless, so are the potential archaeological treasures in an area like the Arabian Peninsula. While there is evidence that human habitation in the peninsula dates back to somewhere between 106,000 and 130,000 years ago, much is left for us to learn and verify about its history.
Saudi Arabia has a key chapter in history of humankind — we must invest so the story can be fully told.
Maria Hanif Al-Qassim
The Arabian Gulf countries provide the perfect platform to marry history and science together in order to uncover larger chapters in the story of humans in general. To do that, scientists, historians and governments must work to generate more interest in modern science and help people understand how it can be an instrumental tool, not only to improve lives but also to understand human history. They should also encourage people to learn about the historical significance of the region (from a factual perspective as opposed to the traditional fable-based perspective). More importantly, however, governments and private sector players must recognize the value of investing in modern science and technology to help historians study and understand the region’s past in relation to the rest of the world’s.
Investing in modern science for the sole purpose of uncovering historical segments coming from the Arabian Peninsula can have an immense impact on how historians in the region work; forensics and archaeology, for example, make it possible to analyze DNA to determine migration routes and family relationships. They can help us determine how people lived and why they died. Quite often, historical figures such as Tutankhamun are excavated to run some tests on their remains and try to find out how they died.
Modern science also allows us to date documents, artefacts or biological remains, and can help us accurately determine the composition of materials, which can help us understand where they came from and how they were produced. Using special multi-spectrum lights and cameras, even damaged ancient documents can now be read and analyzed. Furthermore, computational simulations are now used to test the validity of historical claims, as it allows us to, for instance, simulate how bright a supernova would have been for observers in 1572, or what the positions of Jupiter’s moons were at the time of Galileo’s observations.
The incredible strides in modern science and technology are rarely, if ever, associated with history at first glance, due to the stark contrast of modern and pre-modern they usually invoke in people’s minds. However, the age we live in today could possibly be the best for the seekers of the history of our species and the world at large, precisely because of scientific and technological advancements that allow us to piece together important fragments of history. Thus, given the significance of the latest archaeological finds in the Arabian Peninsula, it is vital that we invest more time, effort and funds in scientific and technological tools that will enable us uncover larger truths in the story of humankind, and put a large piece of the puzzle where it belongs.
• Maria Hanif Al-Qassim is an Emirati from Dubai who writes on development, gender and social issues. Twitter: @maria_hanif