archaeologists by chance
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
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Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today

Archaeologists by chance

Egypt Today, egypt today

Egypt Today, egypt today Archaeologists by chance

Jeddah - Arabstoday

The experience of a group of foreigners through Harrat’s lava fields A desert trip in Saudi Arabia can always lead to unexpected surprises. Despite the identification of numerous Neolithic sites amidst the regions surrounding the Red Sea and the desert valleys of Saudi Arabia, thousands of these settlements still remain unexplored, and visitors can easily bump into them. Tempted by the country’s archaeological treasures and animated by the spirit of adventure and the desire to break away from the daily routine, a group of foreigners living in Jeddah recently went on a two-day trip in the area of Harrat, a large lava field of 20,000 sq km that extends for 300 km south of the holy city of Madinah. Just like the lava flow plains of Jordan and Syria, this huge volcanic area, and particularly the town of Khaybar in the north of Madinah, is well known for offering a profusion of ancient stone rings, tools, lava caves and also human and animal bones that may be traced back to the Neolithic period (8,500 to 5,500 B.C.). Disseminated throughout Saudi Arabia's arid country, including the Arabian Gulf Coast and the shorelines of the an-Nafud and the Rub al-Khali deserts, mysterious circular stone formation, settlements and tools are particularly easy to find around volcanic areas. "Millennia ago, when climatic conditions were more favorable and there was somewhat more water, the basaltic lava eroded into good soil resulting in enough vegetation to support life," writes an amateur from Germany using the pseudonym KenGrok to sign his article "Roughly 3,400 Neolithic sites in Saudi Arabia and East Africa." KenGrok's article synthesizes the evolution of researches up to now, contains useful links and pictures and represents a valid updated reading for whoever wishes to get a rapid idea on the subject. Particularly interesting are his links to an archeology report regarding Jordan and Syria and the pictures of Khaybar taken by Abdullah Al-Saeed, another amateur who lives in Saudi Arabia. As for KenGrok's work, his main effort consisted in trying to classify the shapes of ancient stone structures into basic categories: Stone circles, stone circles with triangles, triangles, mounds, needles, lines, bars, enclosures, irregulars and kites. Various theories regarding the function of these stone formations started to spread during the last century, including the hypothesis that they could represent ancient grave sites or signposts to point the way to freshwater or caravan routes. To date, no definitive explanation has been given, and this quotation from an article of the Sydney Morning Herald published in 1977 still remains valid: “The rings are formed by stone walls that are 30 to 60 centimeters tall and range in diameter from five meters to more than 100 meters. No legends cast light on their origins or purpose and theories are myriad.” What seems plausible today to various experts is that the big stone structures, which look like kites, were most probably used to hunt and gather animals, particularly gazelles. Keeping themselves at 380 km from Jeddah, the group that ventured towards Harrat camped in the south of Madinah at the foot of Volcano Halat Kamisah whose lavas should be at least five million years old as those in the rest of the area. “The beautiful contrasts that black Halat Kamisah creates at sunset and dawn against the yellowish nuances of the desert, and a red hill vaguely resembling Australia’s Eyers Rock were worth bearing a windy and cold night,” said Mariapia Negro, the group’s official photographer. Negro and her husband, Daniele Marin, lived in Jeddah long enough to establish good knowledge about Saudi Arabia’s most interesting and uncommon itineraries. After following them through impervious desert routes, a Neolithic site, at about 50 km from the volcano lava domes, awaited those who were brave enough to walk under the heavy sun through a desert of stones. “We were able to see four different stone structures and found few stones that resemble ancient tools,” said Marin. Searching for a petrol station close to a Bedouin camp on their way back to Jeddah, the group noticed some dead wolves hanging upside down by a string. “It seems that Bedouins use this technique to scare and discourage wolves from hunting their animals,” explained Marin. If you wish to learn more about Neolithic sites in Saudi Arabia, please consult KenGrok’s article at the following link:


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