Archaeology team in KSA unearths earliest-known traces of humans on Arabian Peninsula

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ootprints of humans, elephants and other animals dating back more than 120,000 years were discovered on the edge of an ancient dry lake on the outskirts of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia. (Twitter: Saudi Ministry of Culture)
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Dr. Jasser bin Sulaiman Al-Herbish, CEO of the authority. (Photo by Basheer Saleh)
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A view of the edge of the an ancient lake deposit on the outskirts of Tabuk. The humans may have hunted the big mammals but they did not stay long, using the watering hole as a waypoint on a longer journey. (AFP)
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Animal fossils eroding out of the surface of the ancient lake deposit. (AFP)
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A 120,000-year-old human footprint discovered on the outskirts of Tabuk. (AFP)
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Updated 16 September 2020

Archaeology team in KSA unearths earliest-known traces of humans on Arabian Peninsula

  • The survey team identified the prints of seven humans, 107 camels, 43 elephants, and other animals including ibex and bovine species

RIYADH: An archaeology team in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced the discovery of 120,000-year-old footprints representing the earliest-known evidence of human habitation on the Arabian Peninsula.

The Saudi and international group of experts unearthed footprints of humans, elephants, and predators around an ancient, dry lake on the outskirts of Tabuk, in the north west of the Kingdom, revealed Dr. Jasser bin Sulaiman Al-Herbish, CEO of the Heritage Authority.

The survey team identified the prints of seven humans, 107 camels, 43 elephants, and other animals including ibex and bovine species. Around 233 fossils of elephant and oryx bones were also found, along with signs of the presence of predators.

Al-Herbish said the location of the discoveries confirmed the historical and geographical importance of the Arabian Peninsula to human civilization.

“Just as excavation and exploration reveal oil, gold, and treasures on the earth, it connects us with the legacy of ancient civilizations that inhabited our homeland and provided us with evidence that this part of the world was and still is a source of inexhaustible civilizations,” he added.

“This event is considered an important national reflection related to the history of this land and its fundamental place in the course of life throughout history. When we search and discover, we are simultaneously creating tomorrow’s legacy and presenting our message for the future.”

The chief executive said that the finds were the results of the “Green Arabian Peninsula” scientific project supervised by the Heritage Authority in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the University of Oxford, the University of Queensland in Australia, King Saud University, the Geological Survey Authority, and Aramco.

For more than 10 years, a research team has been working on multidisciplinary field studies covering desert areas, volcanic zones, and parts of the coast in Tabuk, Najran, Riyadh, Hail, and Madinah.

He pointed out that the project’s findings had shown that there had been significant environmental changes ranging from extremely arid to wet.

Current evidence strongly supports assertions of the existence of a green Arabian Peninsula in the past with environmental records and archaeological sites dating back at least 500,000 years.

Al-Herbish said that during wet periods of time there had been rivers and lakes throughout the Arabian Peninsula, which led to population expansions.

“This confirms that Arabia has been a major crossroads between Africa and the rest of Eurasia throughout prehistoric times,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is home to many archaeological treasures spread throughout its regions. Five sites in the Kingdom are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, namely Al-Ahsa Oasis, Mada’in Salih in AlUla, Al-Turaif district in Diriyah, historic Jeddah, and rock art in the Hail region.

Authorities in the Kingdom are making great efforts to preserve and highlight mankind’s shared history and in 2019 Saudi Arabia was elected to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.


King Salman receives closing statement of the Science Group Summit

Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, right, receives the closing statement of the S20 group from its chair Dr. Anas bin Faris Al-Fares. (SPA)
Updated 29 September 2020

King Salman receives closing statement of the Science Group Summit

  • The closing statement of the meeting included 10 recommendations, which will be submitted to the G20 heads of state

On behalf of King Salman, Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday received the closing statement of the Science Group Summit (S20) from the group’s chair, Dr. Anas bin Faris Al-Fares, who is also the president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, after a virtual meeting.
Several scientific organizations from the G20 countries took part in the meeting, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia. The S20 group focuses on future health, a circular economy and the digital revolution. The meeting stressed the importance of making decisions based on scientific facts supported by data.
The closing statement of the meeting included 10 recommendations, which will be submitted to the G20 heads of state. More than 180 scholars participated in drafting the recommendation. They called for increasing the level of preparedness in the wake of a pandemic. They also recommended consolidating advanced treatment and precision medical research with a particular focus on keeping the costs affordable and treatments accessible to all.
The group also stressed the need to devise policies to face challenges arising from demographic shifts. One of the recommendations includes development of an integrated approach to the extraction of natural resources.
They also urged the relevant authorities to consolidate recycling systems to curb carbon emissions.