Saudi Arabia with a rich history and home to archeological treasures

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The discovery of several ancient sites has put Saudi Arabia on top of the list of those countries with a rich history and home to archeological wonders. (SPA)
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The discovery of several ancient sites has put Saudi Arabia on top of the list of those countries with a rich history and home to archeological wonders. (SPA)
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The discovery of several ancient sites has put Saudi Arabia on top of the list of those countries with a rich history and home to archeological wonders. (SPA)
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Updated 31 May 2020

Saudi Arabia with a rich history and home to archeological treasures

  • For centuries, the remains of several ancient cities that once thrived in this area lied in ruins away from people’s attention

RIYADH: Modern-day Saudi Arabia is home to several archeological treasures, evidence that this part of the world was once the cradle of ancient civilizations.

Several cities that once thrived in this area lay in ruins away from people’s attention and, until a few decades ago, this part of the world was considered to be a vast and uninhabitable desert. However technology has made excavation easier in difficult terrains and changed that perception for good.

The discovery of several ancient sites has put Saudi Arabia on the list of countries that have a rich history and are home to archeological wonders.

An exhibition called “Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia Across the Ages” has been hosted by prominent museums around the world in order to introduce this heritage and legacy to international audiences.

One of the artifacts includes a sandstone statue known as the “Suffering Man.” The masterpiece, dating back 6,000 years, was found near the town of Al-Kahafah, 200 km south of Hail.

It depicts a man with sad sunken eyes, a downturned mouth and his hands extending toward his heart.

“It was discovered during excavations by the archeology department in the Hail region,” said Saudi archaeologist Dr. Saad Al-Rashed. “It dates back to the 4th millennium B.C. and exhibits a mixture of tenderness and serenity. It also reflects funerary expressions.”

He said that transporting the piece was subject to approval from the highest authorities, under the guarantee of international covenants, including insurance and personal accompaniment from the country of origin.

Another famous Saudi artifact is the “Eye-Stele.” It was discovered in Tayma and dates back to the 5th century B.C. It is a memorial tombstone featuring a human face and Aramaic inscriptions citing the name of Taim bin Zaid, a prominent figure of his time.

This important piece, which is well-known among archaeologists around the globe, is the only clear evidence of the existence of cultural contact between Tayma and the northwest and southern Arabian Peninsula, where similar monuments have been found.

Another item is the “Head of a Man.” The bronze statue dates back to the 1st century B.C. and was discovered in Qaryat Al-Faw, 700 km southwest of Riyadh. It shows the face of a man with a Roman hairstyle typical of that period.

The ‘Suffering Man’ was discovered during excavations by the archeology department in Hail region. It dates back to the 4th millennium BC.

Saad Al-Rashed, Saudi archeologist

Two more bronze statues have also been discovered in Qaryat Al-Faw. The first is the statue of Byzantine Emperor Hercules, who is grabbing a club with his right hand and a lion’s skin with his left. The second is of the Egyptian Pharaoh Herbocrath, who is wearing the pharaoh’s double crown.

The masterpieces from Qaryat Al-Faw include a colorful mural of a prominent figure of Kinda Kingdom that dates back to the 1st century B.C. The mural depicts a man with thick hair and a light mustache, grapevines swirling behind him, and two servants. It features a banquet and shows the influence of the Dionysian painting style that was popular in the East during the 1st and the 2nd centuries A.D.

A small statue of “Thaj Girl” was found with Thaj treasures discovered in a burial chamber in Jubail in 1998. These include a gold mask, pearls, bracelets, rings, necklaces, a gold placard inlaid with red carved rubies, and other gold pieces that date back to the Hellenistic era more than 2,000 years ago.

The 46-centimeter statue of the girl dates back to the 1st century A.D. and is made of bitumen, iron and lead. During that era the Arabian Peninsula was linked to the Mediterranean’s major trade routes.

Incense convoys in southern Arabia crossed these routes, some of which passed through Thaj city. This trade may have been the source of wealth that enabled wealthy men to put luxury items into the tomb.

Historical research and archaeological excavations indicate that settlement in the Thaj region dates back to the Stone Ages, and that the region flourished between 332 B.C. and the 1st century A.D.


Saudi student takes part in international program for COVID-19

The CVT collaborates with Harvard Innovation Labs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Innovation Initiative, the COVID Foundation, and over 20 other organizations. (ReThe CVT collaborates with Harvard Innovation Labs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Innovation Initiative, the COVID Foundation, and over 20 other organizations. (Reuters/File)ters/File)
Updated 04 August 2020

Saudi student takes part in international program for COVID-19

  • Al-Towijri’s CVT role includes writing articles, designing social media posts, and welcoming and guiding new members

JEDDAH: For the last few months, high school student Talal Al-Towijri from Alkhobar has been investing his time during the pandemic to work with students from across the globe to make the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) more understandable to the public, having joined the US-based Coronavirus Visualization Team (CVT).

The CVT is a nonprofit, crowdsourced student network founded at Harvard, seeking to disseminate information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are a group of over 1,000 skilled and passionate students from different countries across the globe who are working remotely on leveraging data analytics and visualizations for the public about COVID-19’s ongoing impact,” Al-Towijri told Arab News.
The organization was established to combat the current “infodemic,” or information overload, which can be inaccurate and misleading.
“It is a tech-net community of data scientists and analysts, developers and communicators,” said Al-Towijri. “We also work with professors and industry professionals to introduce quality statistics and to better visualize and share the impacts, present and future, of COVID-19.”
Al-Towijri’s CVT role includes writing articles, designing social media posts, and welcoming and guiding new members.
“By joining CVT I felt like I was doing something to help the world instead of sitting around during the lockdown,” he said.
The students’ group works with partners to publicize accurate and digestible information and help organizations fighting on the frontline and developing data-driven policy proposals.
The CVT data visualizations display information from multiple, often overlooked, angles, such as climate implications, socioeconomic factors, and societal aspects.
Moreover, such data analytics can help businesses, nations, and individuals not only understand the disease impact but also to explore coronavirus recovery strategies.
“My team and I are a crowdsourced group of passionate school and university students from around the world who are voluntarily analyzing data on all matters COVID-19 including socioeconomics, census statistics, mental health, and pollution-related data.”
The CVT collaborates with Harvard Innovation Labs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Innovation Initiative, the COVID Foundation, and over 20 other organizations, and is seeking more partnerships around the world, including in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East and North African regions.
Al-Towijri joined when the organization was first launched in April by Harvard student Lucas Chu as a member of the Coronavirus Visualization Community (CVC) before he became a managing member of the CVT itself.

HIGHLIGHTS

•The CVT is a nonprofit, crowdsourced student network founded at Harvard, seeking to disseminate information surrounding the pandemic.

• The CVT data visualizations display information from multiple, often overlooked, angles, such as climate implications, socioeconomic factors, and societal aspects.

The CVT has launched different projects and initiatives, including online events and panels with prominent guests in the field of health and science from top international universities and organizations.
He is very proud of his experience at the CVT. He believes that skilled and passionate high school and university students who are keen to invest their abilities in a rewarding volunteering experience should join such organizations.
He said: “Most students are talented by nature, but they are usually not given chances that could push them out of their comfort zones.”
“Therefore, I believe there should be more student-run organizations in the Kingdom, and there should be more activities for students where they can engage with the community and feel productive, helpful, and powerful,” he added.
 Al-Towijri noted that there is a lack of student-run organizations in the region with sustainable goals and sustainable support from big organizations.
For him, such organizations need support and access to resources as much as they need passionate leaders to help them grow and prosper.
“What distinguishes CVT is that it is crowdsourced and student-run; we are students reporting to students, it is a beautiful community that feels like a family,” he said.
Al-Towijri believes that CVT has a strong potential to expand its reach in the Kingdom by partnering with universities and different companies, as he believes many students in the country are highly skilled and passionate to make the world a better place.
“I want more Arabs and Saudis to join the organization,” he said. “Any student with minimal skills in research and writing can join.”
The CVT can be reached at www.understandcovid.org.