Saturday , March 17 2018

A Quarter never Empty

Recent archaeological findings from numerous archaeological sites dictates that the Arabian Peninsula has never been void of human life, and as studies progress, the better the history of this land renders itself to us.

As part of the lectures scheduled for the 23rd Annual Cultural Season Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah at the Yarmouk Cultural Centre invited Dr. Ali Bin Ibrahim Alghabban to deliver a lecture over the recent archaeological findings in the Arabian Peninsula.

Dr. Ali Alghabban, an expert in the field of archaeology, worked as the vice-president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, as well as the general supervisor over the heritage preservation programme. He has been part of numerous archaeological excavations across the region and has humbly stated during the lecture that everything he says, are results of the numerous teams he has worked with and should not be credited to him alone.

Dr. Ali Alghabban stated that as of late, significant attention and effort is being exerted on archaeological findings in the Arabian Peninsula, and this is due to its prime location of bridging the East to the West throughout history. Building its civilization through the art of trade, a civilization that we must be proud of and hold it dear, but not so much as to hide it from the world and prevent other archaeological institutions outside the peninsula from helping us understand our own heritage.

Talking about some of the results of these studies, Dr. Ali Alghabban mentioned that they have successfully laid down a sequence to the history of this land, which in chronological order are the “Old Arab Kingdoms,” the “Middle-Age Arab Kingdoms,” the “Late Arab Kingdoms” and then the “pre-Islamic Era” which was then followed by the Islamic Era.

Needless to say, there is evidence that suggests these eras have, in numerous points, intersected with other cultures like the Romans and the Greeks, but the Dr. Ali Alghabban asserted that in no point has the Arabian Peninsula as a whole been colonized by other civilizations as far as archaeological evidence goes.

“The abundance of archaeological sites within the Arabian Peninsula indicates that this area has never been without human life,” asserted Dr. Ali Alghabban and that some artefacts found at these sites can be dated back to the stone age. While fossils of pre-historic monkeys and fragments of Dinosaur fossils is proof that this land was also full of animal life, which if combined, discredits those studies that claim the area was at one-point barren.

Furthermore, there has been a number of artefacts found in a site between Najd and Asir in Saudi Arabia recently that suggest the current icons of modern Arab culture like horse-back riding and hunting with dogs. The Dr. Ali Alghabban said that some of the artefacts like the stone dagger is one of a kind, as they are very detailed and had cosmetic engravings almost identical to those bronze daggers that came after. The 1-meter tall statues of a horse and a dog were very defined, all of which points towards the existence of an advanced school of sculpture within that civilization.

Stone grinders and pulleys were also found, which means the civilization was advanced enough to have had agriculture. And they are believed to be the civilization from which the current Arabic Language originated, as there were artefacts found with engravings that resembles a primitive version of written Arabic.

Alongside a team from Oxford University Dr. Ali Alghabban is working on a program called “the Green Arabian Peninsula,” where they study the climate of the area before the last desertification. And through advanced drilling and excavation methods, they found that the Arabian Peninsula was once lush with green trees, lakes and rivers. Further excavations revealed that the area was subjected to multiple cycles of desertification and reforestation.

Artefacts and fossils being found are slowly but surely painting a picture of how the Arabian Peninsula was and how its ancient residents lived. Dots are being connected, revealing that there were advancements already happening within these ancient civilizations thousands of years before they started appearing in the west. “For example, ancient drawings depicting 10 story buildings were found in Al-Faw and Najran in Saudi Arabia as well as a similar drawing in Yemen,” said Dr. Alghabban noting that they all date back to the 2nd century BC while Rome did not start to witness any building more than 4 stories high until the 3rd century AD. Meaning that while ancient Egypt was building its Pyramids, the ancient Arabians were building high-rise buildings.

Now as to where Dr. Ali Alghabban believes these high-rise buildings once stood, he said that if we were to survey and excavate the empty quarter in Saudi Arabia we should find their remnants.

By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb – Arab Times Staff


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