RIYADH, October 31, 2017 – Archaeologists from around the world, including joint international-Saudi teams working on excavations in the Kingdom, will descend on the Saudi capital next week for a major archaeology convention to talk shop and share their experiences with the general public. Also on tap are the first public announcements of the most recent discoveries in Saudi Arabia.
The November 7-9 Saudi Archaeology Convention – which aims to raise awareness of the Kingdom’s archaeological treasures – is the first of its kind to take place in the Kingdom and will also include a scientific conference that covers various topics: the pre-historic antiquities, rock art, Hajj and trade routes, the Arabian Peninsula’s pre-Islamic antiquities, antiquities of the Islamic ages, arts and architecture, sunken antiquities, ancient and Islamic writings, and heritage sites.
Recent archaeological finds in the Kingdom will also be announced at the convention. One of the Kingdom’s best-known archaeological sites is Madain Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is the southern outpost of the ancient Nabateans, the people who carved from stone the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Madain Saleh, a collection of ornate tombs carved into huge rock formations in the desert, is more than 2,000 years old. Another important site is Diriyah, a small historic city about 20 km from the capital of Riyadh whose historic Turaif District was granted UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site in 2010.
The event, organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), is being held under the patronage of King Salman at the King Abdulaziz Historical Center in Riyadh. It will include 10 archeological and other exhibitions that will be open to the public for 50 days. A number of archaeology-based projects and initiatives will also be announced.
The forum, which will start next week, has two general functions: a professional component based on archeology, its sciences and projects, and a component designed to raise public awareness of sites in the Kingdom, SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said at a press conference on Monday at the National Museum to announce the convention’s details.
“We aim to introduce our citizens to the antiquities of their country and its archaeological richness, only 10 percent of which has been discovered,” he continued.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is equal to any place in the world in terms of historical and cultural assets, and this forum will bring that to light through the participation of a number of the world’s leading archaeologists.”
Prince Sultan bin Salman launched the convention’s website, http://naf.org.sa, and witnessed the signing of partnership agreements involving SCTH and the Ministry of the Interior, the Saudi Post Corporation, and Saudi Customs Authority, all related to the restoration and preservation of antiquities.
About 30 teams composed of Saudi and international archaeologists currently involved in excavation work across the Kingdom will attend the forum. Attendees include top names such as renowned Egyptian archaeologist, Zahi Hawass.
Key objectives of the convention, according to SCTH, are “to document and highlight the efforts exerted by the leadership of the country as well as government agencies and individuals in taking care of the Kingdom’s antiquities throughout history; highlighting the Kingdom’s historical and cultural depth nationally, regionally and internationally; highlighting the contributions of the pioneering generation, whether individuals or organizations in the field of antiquities”.
The convention is being organized as a part of the efforts of the Program for Caring for the Kingdom’s Cultural Heritage in collaboration with the King Abdulaziz Research Center (Darah), the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and Information, and the Ministry of Education, wherein a number of concerned government agencies will also cooperate to make it a success.
The forum is also aimed at introducing the public to archaeological excavation and discovery, methods of identifying artifacts, tools used in the excavation process, and the precise methods used by archaeologists in remote desert areas of the Kingdom.
Archaeologists from around the world will share their experiences in the field at the forum.
The forum will feature a conference during which working papers covering different historical periods, from pre-history until the end of the 14th century of the Hijri calendar, will be presented. Many of the events are designed to appeal to the general public.
The opening ceremony and exhibition will be held at the National Museum in Riyadh, while King Abdulaziz Library and Hall at the King Abdulaziz Historical Center in the capital will host the scientific conference and workshops.