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Al-Jouf in Saudi Arabia: Site of Earliest Life-Sized Animal Carvings Uncovered so Far

Al-Jouf in Saudi Arabia: Site of Earliest Life-Sized Animal Carvings Uncovered so Far

Thursday, 16 September, 2021 - 11:15
The research results found that a deal of great effort had gone into making the animal carvings. SPA

A team of archaeologists found that the camel carvings in Al-Jouf in Saudi Arabia are likely to be the oldest life-sized animal carvings ever discovered, according to a Journal of Archaeological Science study.


The study found that the “camel site,” which includes 21 carvings (17 of them of camels, two of equids, and another that has not been discerned), could be home to the world’s oldest life-sized carvings of animals. The researchers’ results also found that they go back to the Neolithic era and were made between 5200 and 5600 AD.


The method used to carve them differs from that prevalent elsewhere in the Kingdom. They are three-dimensional and appear life-like. The carvings on the site also demonstrated that remarkable rock art production had existed at the time, and remains of animal bones were also discovered.


Discovering the date in which carvings were made is considered among the biggest challenges facing researchers. The team used an array of methods to determine the date of the carvings with high precision, examining tool marks, weathering and erosion patterns, analysis involving fluorescence luminescence, and radiocarbon. The team of researchers included scientists from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage/ Saudi Heritage Authority, the King Saud University, France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the Max Planck Institute and the Free University of Berlin.


The research results found that a deal of great effort had gone into making the animal carvings, that it was probably a group effort and that they were made at different times.


There are indications that the carvings had been re-engraved and re-shaped, with new engravings being made to replace segments that had been damaged with time. Parts of the carvings that had fallen off were put back on in their place.


The results also found that the carvings took their eventual form over three stages, and they are: the engraving process, which went on for a long period; that was followed by a period in which no human activity was made, and the site was deserted; finally, in the third and last stage, when they got damaged because of natural causes.


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