Ancient site in Nefud Desert offers glimpse of early human activity in Saudi Arabia

The report notes that until now, detailed knowledge of the Acheulean in the region was limited to a single, well-documented site: Saffaqah, in the central Kingdom. (SPA)
The report notes that until now, detailed knowledge of the Acheulean in the region was limited to a single, well-documented site: Saffaqah, in the central Kingdom. (SPA)
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Updated 13 May 2021

Ancient site in Nefud Desert offers glimpse of early human activity in Saudi Arabia

Ancient site in Nefud Desert offers glimpse of early human activity in Saudi Arabia
  • An Nasim is the first Acheulean site to be dated in the Nefud Desert, say researchers
  • Evidence of diverse species of small-to-large mammals can be found at the sites of these palaeolakes in the Nefud

RIYADH: An important archaeological site showing signs of ancient human activity dating back 350,000 years has been discovered in the Hail region of northern Saudi Arabia.

According to a scientific report published in the journal Nature, An Nasim is the first Acheulean site to be dated in the Nefud Desert. Acheulean technology refers to the distinctive style of oval and pear-shaped stone tools believed to have been developed about 1.7 million years ago by the archaic humans that preceded modern homo sapiens. It is thought these “hand axes” remained in use until as recently as 130,000 years ago.

The report — titled “The Expansion of Acheulean Hominins into the Nefud Desert of Arabia” — notes that until now, detailed knowledge of the Acheulean in the region was limited to a single, well-documented site: Saffaqah, in central Saudi Arabia.

However, tools were also found in the Nefud Desert. Researchers at An Nasim discovered evidence of what was once a deep lake, probably freshwater, as well as features associated with the Middle Pleistocene era, which covers the period from about 780,000 to 130,000 years ago.

Jasir Al-Harbash, CEO of the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission, told Arab News: “Many sites have been discovered and are under study.”

HIGHLIGHT

According to a scientific report published in the journal Nature, An Nasim is the first Acheulean site to be dated in the Nefud Desert. Acheulean technology refers to the distinctive style of oval and pear-shaped stone tools believed to have been developed about 1.7 million years ago by the archaic humans that preceded modern homo sapiens. It is thought these ‘hand axes’ remained in use until as recently as 130,000 years ago.

However the discovery in the Nefud Desert is particularly important, he added, because it is “the oldest dated site of the Acheulean period in Saudi Arabia.”

Surveys by the Green Arabian Project (GAP) in the past 10 years have confirmed that the Arabian Peninsula experienced climate changes during the Pleistocene era that produced wetter conditions, which affected the movement and distribution of humans within and between continents. This is particularly true of Acheulean communities, who appear to have been more tethered to water sources than others.

An Nasim offers insights into the diverse stone tool assemblages used by Middle Pleistocene humans in the region, probably indicating their repeated return to the peninsula during the wetter “Green Arabia” climate phases.

The site includes a deep, narrow basin with outcrops in the central part, where several artifacts from the early Palaeolithic era were discovered. About 354 items were collected, primarily hand axes and stone “flakes” cut from a rock core. The survey found that the archaeological materials are closely associated with the lake. The report notes that the tools are similar to those found elsewhere in the Nefud Desert. The presence of some of the flaked pieces suggest that the raw materials were brought to the site and some discarded after testing. Other pieces had been partly shaped before being abandoned.

Broader surveys of the Nefud Desert have found that local quartzite rock was frequently used in undated Acheulean assemblages, including diverse sizes and shapes of hand axes.

The Acheulean tools at An Nasim have been dated to the late Middle Pleistocene era, about 350,000 to 250,000 years ago, when the formation of lakes was seemingly widespread in the Nefud Desert. In comparison tools found at the site at Saffaqah are more recent, dating back about 240,000 to 190,000 years.

The similarities between the Acheulean materials found at An Nasim and other undated Acheulean sites in the Nefud Desert indicates that the lakes that once existed in this region provided an important resource for the expansion of humans in the region, and a viable habitation environment for them and other mammals.

Evidence of diverse species of small-to-large mammals can be found at the sites of these palaeolakes in the Nefud, indicating the migration of animals to the region during wet phases and suggesting the availability of fauna as food sources at watering holes.

With the participation of Saudi experts, the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission has been working on the GAP scientific program in collaboration with counterparts from the Berlin-based Max Planck Institute for Human Development. It focuses on studying climate changes in the Arabian Peninsula over time, and the immigration of ancient humans into Arabia and their settlement there.

Previous GAP studies have found evidence of hundreds of paleolakes, rivers and forests, and the animals they helped to sustain, around which successive civilizations emerged thanks to the mild climate at that time.

Late last year, the Heritage Commission announced that the footprints of humans, elephants, camels and predatory animals had been found at the site of what was once lake, dating back more than 120,000 years, in Tabuk. They are believed to be the oldest footprints of man and animals found in the Arabian Peninsula.

Through the GAP, the Heritage Commission carries out intensive surveys and systematic excavations to identify and gain insight into ancient climatic conditions and the nature of the prevailing environment in Arabia’s past, as well as the movement of humans. This is part of the Commission’s efforts to excavate, preserve and promote archaeological sites in the Kingdom as part of Saudi Vision 2030.

Al-Harbash highlighted the importance of cooperation between local and international teams in excavating and researching antiquities in the Arabian Peninsula. He added that joint projects are in progress with more than 20 of the most prestigious international institutes and universities involved in archaeological research and excavation.


Riyadh Season: Groves offers relaxing spa, shopping, entertainment, culinary experience

The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (Photos/Saleh Al-Ghanim)
The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (Photos/Saleh Al-Ghanim)
Updated 50 min 31 sec ago

Riyadh Season: Groves offers relaxing spa, shopping, entertainment, culinary experience

The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (Photos/Saleh Al-Ghanim)
  • This place is ‘all about nature, relaxation, and quietness, so each zone has its flavor’

RIYADH: One of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, the Groves, has opened its doors for visitors to experience its spa, restaurants, shops, and shows.

The Groves has combined work and relaxation through an area called The House, which consists of business meeting rooms in a luxurious environment.
Siham Hassanain, general manager of the Groves, told Arab News that the zone was a garden that reflected its name, meaning field of trees.
She said: “Visitors can hear the sound of fountains, water, and birds ... the place also has a special scent. The logo of the Groves contains the four elements of life which are water, air, fire, and earth.
“So, I used these four elements of life in the Groves. The water resembles the relaxation of the place, fire means action and attractions, earth means food, and air means memories.”
The zone contains several open spaces including Al-Jalsa, an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can view the site and discover its various activities.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Groves has combined work and relaxation through an area called The House, which consists of business meeting rooms in a luxurious environment.

• People can enjoy a number of attractions while at the Groves, including birds of Eden, an afternoon high tea experience where a selection of the finest teas are served in an aviary filled with classical live music.

People can enjoy a number of attractions while at the Groves, including birds of Eden, an afternoon high tea experience where a selection of the finest teas are served in an aviary filled with classical live music. Other restaurants such as GEM.IN.I and El Lechazo offer a range culinary delights.
Followers of fashion can buy from local designers showcasing their latest collections, and dog owners and their pets can meet in Riyadh’s first-ever canine park, Lucaland.

Dog owners and their pets can meet in Riyadh’s first- ever canine park, Lucaland.

Hassanain, founder of Siham International Trading Co., a Saudi firm operating in the hospitality, food, and beverage industry, noted that the Groves was located in the city’s Diplomatic Quarter with commanding views of Wadi Hanifah.
“Nature and trees are all around. Wadi Hanifah offers a unique experience ... a place to relax.
“Each zone in Riyadh Season has its own unique experience. If you want a vibrant area, go to Boulevard Riyadh City. Visit Al-Murabaa to try international restaurants. If you are looking for an Arabian night experience in the desert, Riyadh Oasis is the place.
“But the Groves is all about nature, relaxation, and quietness, so each zone has its flavor,” she added.


Saudi Vision 2030 gets legal boost

General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 11 sec ago

Saudi Vision 2030 gets legal boost

General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
  • The center aims to build long-term strategic partnerships with governmental agencies to contribute to enriching the legislative environment in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Center for Legal Studies and Research signed an agreement with the Center for Quality of Life Program to empower the legal and legislative aspects of the Vision 2030 strategy.

It comes as part of the efforts by the Center for Legal Studies and Research to boost its cooperation with Vision 2030 initiatives and provide them with the necessary support.

The center aims to build long-term strategic partnerships with governmental agencies to contribute to enriching the legislative environment in the Kingdom.

It also focuses on providing legal solutions to support and empower the quality of systems and legislations, and enrich the legal environment in the Kingdom through qualified legal specialists with long-standing experience in consultancy work in Saudi Arabia.

The Quality of Life Program aims to boost the quality of life of individuals and families in the Kingdom through strengthening the involvement of citizens, residents and visitors in the cultural, entertainment, sports and tourism sectors. It aims to lift employment figures, diversify economic activity and improve the status of Saudi cities in global rankings.


Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
Updated 23 min 55 sec ago

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
  • The library houses around 180,000 books and 71 classifications, most of which are books on the prophetic biography with 86 titles, and other specialist administrations and departments

MADINAH: The Prophet’s Mosque Library in Madinah is seeking to enrich visitor knowledge through its 180,000 books.

The library, which is affiliated with the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, is considered one of the most important places that visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque are keen to visit.

It aims to offer people the opportunity to acquire skills and expertise, as well as enrich their knowledge, through its diverse range of books in more than 21 languages.

The library houses around 180,000 books and 71 classifications, most of which are books on the prophetic biography with 86 titles, and other specialist administrations and departments.

It also includes a smart digital library offering computers with e-books.

Authorities have allocated a location for the library on the northwestern roof of the second expansion of the mosque.

 


Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site

Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site
Updated 23 min 49 sec ago

Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site

Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli president’s visit to West Bank holy site

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia denounced the visit of Israel’s president to Ibrahimi mosque in the West Bank, calling the act a flagrant violation of its sanctity.

Saudi Arabia called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to stop the Israeli government and its officials’ continuous practices towards Islamic sanctities, according to a Saudi foreign ministry statement. Saudi Arabia called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to stop the Israeli government and its officials’ continuous practices towards Islamic sanctities.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited the site on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, sparking scuffles between Israeli security forces and protesters.

Herzog said he was visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque,  in Hebron to celebrate the ancient city’s Jewish past and promote interfaith relations. But his visit to the city, known for its tiny ultranationalist Jewish settler community and difficult living conditions for Palestinians, drew widespread criticism from Palestinians and left-wing Israelis.

— With Reuters


Largest cybersecurity conference in the world kicks off in Riyadh

The conference, one of the largest in the world in the cybersecurity field, aims to enhance the advanced cyber skills of the region’s youth. (Supplied)
The conference, one of the largest in the world in the cybersecurity field, aims to enhance the advanced cyber skills of the region’s youth. (Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2021

Largest cybersecurity conference in the world kicks off in Riyadh

The conference, one of the largest in the world in the cybersecurity field, aims to enhance the advanced cyber skills of the region’s youth. (Supplied)
  • Companies from around the world are taking part in the event

RIYADH: The @Hack conference, one of the largest in the world in the cybersecurity field, kicked off in Riyadh on Nov. 28, with companies from around the world taking part.

Ahmed Abdulkhaliq, central area manager of a company related to security systems, told Arab News that the conference is significant to his work because it showcases cutting-edge developments in information and server security.
“I work in maintenance and operation of the security equipment field, and it’s very important for us to know the new technology regarding cybersecurity because most of our work is related to governmental sectors,” Abdulkhaliq said.
Usually hosted in the US and now in the Kingdom, the three-day conference specializes in connecting cybersecurity enthusiasts and companies.
@Hack showcases everything new in the field and offers activities for visitors including training, lectures and competitions. It aims to bring together major cybersecurity companies such as Kaspersky, IBM and Cisco.
About 80 specialized training courses and workshops hosted by global cybersecurity experts are being offered at the conference.
@Hack will also hold competitions, with a total prize fund of SR1 million ($266,000) on offer. There is also an interactive space for exchanging technical opinions, networking and building professional relationships.
In the business hall, more than 170 companies displayed their services and their latest innovations, including major international companies, local government and private sector organizations and emerging technology businesses.
The conference is organized within the activities of the Riyadh Season 2021 by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, in partnership with Blackhat and the General Entertainment Authority.
Reham Ahmed, an IT student, said that she heard about @Hack from Blackhat, and is interested in cybersecurity and digital forensics.
“It is my first time attending an event related to cybersecurity, and I saw a lot of big companies here like Starlink. When I heard that @Hack is not in Los Angeles this year but in Riyadh, I knew that this event would be big, and of course, because it’s one of Riyadh Season’s activities,” Ahmed said.
One of the most important strategic objectives of the conference is to enhance the advanced cyber skills of the region’s youth, support them with technical skills in preparation for digital transformation, attract business tourism, and entice technology companies to Riyadh and the Kingdom.