RIYADH: Archaeological studies of rock art in Saudi Arabia reveal that lions lived in the area in prehistoric times, according to Hosni Abdelhalim, a professor at King Saud University.
Although camels and mules are the animals most commonly depicted in the ancient drawings and carvings that can be found at a number of locations across the Kingdom, eight sites highlighted in a recent study by Abdelhalim include depictions of lions.
They include Wadi AlUla, Abu Taqah and Owairidh in AlUla governorate, and Jabal Umm Sanman and Shwaimes in Hail. Art depicting lions hunting was discovered in Yateb, east of Hail, and images of the animals were also found on two rocky facades in Wadi Al-Mutaiwi, southwest of Al-Dawadmi Governorate.
Sometimes individual lions are depicted, usually in calm poses. Other images show them being hunted by humans or attacking prey. This suggests that the artists based their art on scenes they witnessed in their native environment, or copied them from images they saw nearby. This indicates that the environment in some parts of the Kingdom was a suitable for lions in ancient times.
This research aims to shed light on the environmental and cultural implications of the lion art by comparing it with images found elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula and some civilizations in the ancient Near East.
Saudi Arabia’a rich cultural heritage of rock art, originating from a number of civilizations, makes it one of the most notable countries for ancient art.