RIYADH: The head of the Saudi-French archaeological mission working at the site of Thaj in the Eastern Province has given an update on the progress of the excavation.
Dr. Jerome Romer, at a lecture organized by the Antiquities and Museums Department of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), claimed that the dig was the biggest yet to be lunched in Saudi Arabia, and that the site was the largest to be unearthed in the east of the Kingdom.
Thaj, 90 km west of the city of Jubail and under observation since a 2016 agreement between the SCTH and the French National Center for Scientific Research, would once have been a major urban center at the beginning of the Common Era, over 2,000 years ago.
Excavations in the region, Romer added, represented an exciting new chapter in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, and he pointed out that the exploration of the site revealed it was perhaps the biggest pre-Islamic Arab settlement on the East Coast.
“In ancient times, just like today, the Arabian Peninsula was a commercial and cultural hub, at the crossroads of the great civilizations of that time in the Levant, Mesopotamia and India. Its cities hosted rich trade convoys and became strong commerce-based kingdoms,” he said.
The Saudi-French mission has carried out multiple excavations and surveys during its time at Thaj, including a general survey of the site and the surrounding topography.
Excavations have uncovered letters, drawings and inscriptions in a number of tombs on hills around the ancient city, and rock samples collected from the northern part of the dig have been used to date it, as well as trace geological events during its history.