Green Arabia project wins award for archaeological work in Saudi Arabia

The project, headed by Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, receives Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Ansari Award for Serving Kingdom’s Antiquities for a Pioneering Non-Saudi Group at the 1st Saudi Archeology Convention

November 02, 2017
Palaeodeserts scientists are excavating hearth sites located along ancient shore lines of a palaeolake.

The winners of the Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Ansari Award for Serving Kingdom’s Antiquities, which will be awarded at the 1st Saudi Archeology Convention in Riyadh, have been announced. The Green Arabia project, headed by Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, will receive the award for a Pioneering Non-Saudi Group in recognition of the project’s pioneering efforts in the field of pre-history studies in Saudi Arabia, namely its work on revealing the Arabian pennisula's past as a green, wet landscape, criss-crossed by rivers and lakes, capable of supporting many plants and animals - including humans and their ancestors.

The Convention, which will run from November 7 to 9, aims to document and highlight the efforts of the Saudi government and of individuals in caring for its antiquities, its history and culture, and the contributions of pioneering individuals and organizations in the field of archaeology. Three members of the Green Arabia project team will be presenting at the conference, on rock art, satellite imagery and fossils.

The Green Arabia project, funded by the European Research Council, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the Max Planck Society, examines environmental change in the Arabian Desert over the last one million years. A multidisciplinary team of researchers is studying the effect of environmental change on early humans and animals that settled or passed through the Desert and how their responses determined whether they survived or died out.

Rock art research enables archaeologists to link cultural development with environmental changes.

Remote sensing has indicated that the Arabian peninsula was criss-crossed by a network of rivers in the past, and up to 10,000 lakes were present.  Surveys of some of the lakes have now recovered archaeological sites ranging over the last 500,000 years, demonstrating that early humans and our species, Homo sapiens, migrated into the region during wet periods, when there were permanent water bodies, grasslands and woods.  Fossils also indicate the presence of elephants, hippos, oryx and a range of carnivores.  Though some assume that human and mammal communities decreased in number or even went extinct during arid and hyper-arid periods, further research must be conducted to understand the interplay between environmental change and human history. The Green Arabia project consists of an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars from a range of disciplines (archaeology, geochronology, earth sciences, palaeontology, remote sensing, genetics, rock art studies) conducting surveys and excavations in Saudi Arabia.     

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