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Saudi Arabia discovers a 350,000-year-old archaeological site in Hail

One of the world's oldest Acheulean sites was found in the northern region of Hail in Saudi Arabia. The site, Al Nasim, has paleo-environmental evidence for freshwater lakes and rivers, and geomorphological features associated with Middle Pleistocene materials.

Saudi Arabia discovers a 350,000-year-old archaeological site in Hail
Different handaxe forms from An Nasim [Credit: Ian Cartwright,
Scientific Reports 2021]

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage began paleo-environmental and archaeological surveys of the Green Arabian Project more than 10 years ago in partnership with the German Max Planck Society, the University of Oxford, the Saudi Geological Survey and King Saudi University in Riyadh.

The survey reveals that the Arabian Peninsula had wetter conditions and a rainy climate in the central region. This led to the formation of lakes, rivers, valleys and vegetation that contributed to a better way of living for human beings and altered the spatial distribution of hominins within and between continents.

Archaeological studies also suggest that the earliest living man inhabited South-West Asia and that the Acheulean culture had one of the longest-lasting tool-making traditions. The artefacts found included hand axes and stone tools, providing an insight about the inhabitants’ way of living.

“Al Nasim represents one of the oldest documented Acheulean sites in Saudi Arabia, revealing regionally diverse stone tool assemblages used by Middle Pleistocene man, which further indicates a pattern of repeated entry of inhabitants into the peninsula during the wet ‘Green Arabia’ phase,” the SPA reported.

The site comprises a deep, narrow basin where several Palaeolithic artefacts were recovered, which are similar to those previously found at the Acheulean sites in the Nefud Desert. The similarity between the Acheulean discoveries in Al Nasim and those in the Nefud Desert indicate that the paleolakes of this region provided an important corridor for humans to travel and meet others.

The discovery has been published in Scientific Reports.

Author: Mariam Nihal | Source: The National News [May 13, 2021]

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