Oxford University team conducts archeological and climate studies in Saudi Arabia


There is an ancient network of rivers and lakes in the Great Nafud Desert in northern Saudi Arabia, Professor Michael Petraglia, co-director of the Center for Asian Archaeology, Art and Culture at Oxford University and head of an international scientific team conducting archeological studies in the kingdom said.

“The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has granted a five-year permission to Oxford University to conduct archeological research and we started with the Jubba Oasis in the Nafud,” he told al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

In Jubba, Petraglia explained, the team found the remains of an old lake that they found out dates back to the Paleolithic Age.

“We also found several buried archeological sites that date back to the Middle Paleolithic Age, around 75,000 years ago.”

For Petraglia, fishermen and harvesters most probably lived around this lake which was also surrounded by trees and grassland at that fertile time.”

Pictures taken by NASA and Google Earth showed that similar lakes and rivers dating back to the same era existed and that the areas around them were populated.

“Immigrations at the time were linked to water resources and future studies will reveal how densely populated those areas were.”

According to Petraglia, the climate in this area has undergone a lot of changes and has always ranged between the extremes of fertility and aridity.

“These climate changes continued in the past 100,000 years.”

Petraglia, who is studying with his team the past million years of human life, said that one of the most ancient archeological sites they found was in the Dawadmi area in Central Saudi Arabia and Wadi Fatma in the west.

“All those sites are extremely important in getting to know more about the history of humanity and Saudi Arabia has a lot of them. The kingdom is very rich as far as history and archeology are concerned.”

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)