Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that human and animal footprints dating back 120,000 years have been found in the province of Tabuk, north-west of the Kingdom. This, so far, serves as scientific evidence for the oldest human presence on the Arabian Peninsula.
The new archaeological discoveries were unveiled by the Heritage Authority during a press conference held in Riyadh. The traces of the footprints were discovered in an old dry lake.
A joint Saudi-international team of archaeologists found the footprints of man, camels, elephants, wild animals and predators around the ancient dry lake.
The Authority, according to results of a screening, said that the team found the traces of seven human footprints, 107 camel footprints, 43 elephant footprints and other traces of different animals.
The team also found 233 fossils of elephant and gazelle bones as well as evidence of the existence of predators in the site
“This archaeological discovery represents the first scientific evidence about the oldest existence of human life in Saudi Arabia and offers a rare glimpse into the natural environment and biodiversity in the region”, Chief Executive of the Authority Dr. Jasser Al Herbish said.
Al Hebrish stressed that the new discovery, alongside others, highlight the Kingdom’s development in the field of archaeological discoveries.
Saudi Arabia is cooperating with universities, research centers and government agencies from around the world to advance its excavations across the Kingdom.
According to Al Herbish, the discovery proved that there are significant changes in the environments ranging from extremely arid to wet.
The current evidence strongly supports the assertions of the existence of “Green Arabia” in the past as there are environmental records and archaeological sites dating back 500,000 years.
There were rivers and lakes throughout the Arabian Peninsula, which led to population spreads and expansions, and this confirms that the peninsula was a major crossroads between Africa and the rest of Eurasia throughout prehistoric times.
Al Herbish said this discovery is one of the results of the great scientific project — namely Green Arabia Project, supervised by the commission.
He said the Authority cooperates with the German Max Planck Institute, the University of Oxford, Australian University of Queensland, King Saud University, the Saudi Geological Survey and Saudi Aramco in undertaking the project.
The Saudi and international research team have been working for more than 10 years on multi-disciplinary field research. The project was called “The Green Arabian Peninsula”, which covered different desert areas, around volcanic hotspots, and near some coasts in Tabuk, Najran, Riyadh, Hail, and Madinah.