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Roman shipwreck pieces to be displayed in Riyadh museum

ABHA: A joint team of Saudi and German archaeologists has found the remains of a Roman shipwreck along the Red Sea coast.
In addition to it, the remains of another ship dating back to the early Islamic period have also been discovered in the area between Rabigh in the north and Al-Shoaibah in the south.
The items have been delivered to the National Museum in Riyadh for public display, said the discoverers at a seminar.
German archaeologist Michaela Reinfeld said many underwater remains are waiting to be discovered.
She said it was part of her team’s job in the Kingdom to train Saudis in the field of underwater archaeology.
Reinfeld added that the Saudi coast is rich in these wrecks and their presence has prompted the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to step up efforts to discover the treasures with the assistance of international experts.
Mahdi Al-Qarni, head of the Saudi team, said the successive civilizations on the Arabian Peninsula were major contributors to underwater relics in the Red Sea which has been a trade route since ancient times. He said the Saudi and German team had earmarked 50 locations for more exploration.

He stressed that the discovery of underwater archaeological finds requires specialized expertise, especially as the Red Sea waters contain a good deal of waste and other pieces that are not of archaeological interest.
Al-Qarni added, “The underwater cultural heritage is part of our identity and national history, and protecting it is the responsibility of all of us.”
Al-Qarni praised the German team’s efforts in providing expertise through intensive training, and pointed to the success of the Saudi team in getting diving licenses. This promises to produce specialized archaeologists, and will contribute to the discovery of submerged relics by trained national cadres in the near future. There is a growing interest in underwater archaeology all over the world with a number of universities and scientific institutions involved in the search.
He said that the monuments system, museums and architectural heritage sites are devoted to discovering underwater relics. In addition he highlighted the cooperation between relevant government agencies to preserve the underwater cultural heritage and encourage the immediate reporting of new discoveries.
Reinfeld pointed out that the protection of sunken/underwater monuments depends on several elements, including spreading awareness of the importance of the sunken relics/discoveries by qualified archaeologists, and by adopting scientific procedures that teach how to explore and protect the discoveries as well as the museum’s role in preserving and presenting the items as well as educating the public about them.
There is also a need for laboratories dedicated to the study of archaeological finds under the sea and the way to deal with them scientifically. In this context, she mentioned the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

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