Nav: Home

Rock art: Life-sized sculptures of dromedaries found in Saudi Arabia

February 13, 2018

At a remarkable site in northwest Saudi Arabia, a CNRS archaeologist[1] and colleagues from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have discovered camelid sculptures unlike any others in the region. They are thought to date back to the first centuries BC or AD.[2] The find sheds new light on the evolution of rock art in the Arabian Peninsula and is the subject of an article published in Antiquity (February 2018).

Located in the province of Al Jawf in northwest Saudi Arabia, Camel Site, as it is known, was explored in 2016 and 2017 by a Franco-Saudi research team. The sculptures, some incomplete, were executed on three rocky spurs there. Though natural erosion has partly destroyed some of the works, as well as any traces of tools, the researchers were able to identify a dozen or so reliefs of varying depths representing camelids and equids. The life-sized sculpted animals are depicted without harnessing in a natural setting. One scene in particular is unprecedented: it features a dromedary meeting a donkey, an animal rarely represented in rock art. Some of the works are thus thematically very distinct from the representations often found in this region. Technically, they also differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites--frequently simple engravings of dromedaries without relief--or the sculpted facades of Al ?ijr (Madâ'in ?âli?). In addition, certain Camel Site sculptures on upper rock faces demonstrate indisputable technical skills. Camel Site can now be considered a major showcase of Saudi rock art in a region especially propitious for archaeological discovery.

Though the site is hard to date, comparison with a relief at Petra (Jordan) leads the researchers to believe the sculptures were completed in the first centuries BC or AD. Its desert setting and proximity to caravan routes suggest Camel Site--ill suited for permanent settlement--was a stopover where travelers could rest or a site of worship.
-end-
Notes:

[1] The archaeologist is a research engineer at the Orient et Méditerranée research unit (CNRS / Sorbonne University / University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne / EPHE / Collège de France). This project involves another researcher in France, from the TRACES research unit (CNRS / University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès / French Ministry of Culture and Communication).

[2] These discoveries were made within the scope of the Dumat al Jandal archaeological project, directed by researchers Guillaume Charloux (CNRS) and Romolo Loreto (University of Naples L'Orientale), and supported by the SCTH; the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Labex RESMED, part of the French Investissements d'Avenir program; and the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS).

CNRS

Related Light Articles:

Analysis sheds light on how metaphors like 'sheds light' evolved
In the first large-scale study of its kind, researchers from Lehigh University and University of California, Berkeley analyzed 5,000 English-language metaphorical mapping records over the last 1100 years and found the evolution of word meaning to be highly systematic -- following predictable patterns.
A stream of superfluid light
Scientists have known for centuries that light is composed of waves.
No green light for latest traffic light app following expert evaluation
Psychologist Dr Kyle Wilson takes a 'human look' at a new vehicle traffic light app ahead of plans to introduce similar devices into 'connected vehicles'
Let there be light
Graphene Flagship research demonstrates large scale, fully integrable arrays of single photon quantum dots in layered materials, which may lead to hybrid on-chip photonics devices for networks and sensing.
Guiding light
Biologists discover an unexpected role for a light-sensitive receptor protein in the central brain that regulates circadian rhythms.
Red light, green light invention prevents work interruptions
A UBC computer scientist has invented a unique desk light that automatically switches from green to red when you are 'in the zone' and shouldn't be disturbed by colleagues.
Shedding light on the absorption of light by titanium dioxide
EPFL scientists have uncovered the hidden properties of titanium dioxide, one of the most promising materials for light-conversion technology.
A nano-roundabout for light
At TU Wien, it was possible to create a nanoscale optical element that regulates the flow of light particles at the intersection of two glass fibers like a roundabout.
Discovery: A new form of light
Scientists have discovered a new method to create fluorescent light that may have promising applications from LEDs to medical imaging.
How to control polarization of light
A group of physicists from the Lomonosov Moscow State University and Toyohashi University of Technology (Japan) has developed a method of ultrafast control of the light's polarization.

Related Light Reading:

A Spark of Light: A Novel
by Jodi Picoult (Author)

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
by Anthony Doerr (Author)

Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Author), Annie Dillard (Author), Thomas Merton (Author), C. S. Lewis (Author), Henri J. M. Nouwen (Author), John Donne (Author), Meister Eckhart (Author), Dorothy Day (Author), Thomas Stearns Eliot (Author), Edith Stein (Author), Thomas Aquinas (Author), Philip Yancey (Author)

The Ultimate Guide To Red Light Therapy: How to Use Red and Near-Infrared Light Therapy for Anti-Aging, Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, Performance Enhancement, and Brain Optimization
by Ari Whitten (Author)

The Light We Lost
by Jill Santopolo (Author)

A Light in the Attic Special Edition with 12 Extra Poems
by Shel Silverstein (Author), Shel Silverstein (Illustrator)

Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2019: Every Recipe! A Year's Worth of Cooking Light Magazine
by The Editors of Cooking Light (Author)

Work Your Light Oracle Cards
by Rebecca Campbell (Author)

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)
by James Gurney (Author)

Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga
by B. K. S. Iyengar (Author), Yehudi Menuhin (Foreword)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!