First Saudi-Belgian Research Campaign in the Al-Ghat Region
with the participation of two IAP partners (the KU Leuven and the Université Catholique de Louvain)
The research in the Al-Ghat region - an area with a very rich history located in the Alhamada valley in North Central Saudi Arabia - was inspired by the Abdulrahman Al-Sudairy Foundation and His Excellency Marc Vinck, the Belgian ambassador in Saudi Arabia.
The project works under the aegis of the following institutions:
- the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh (represented by Mr. Mohammed Ali Alsalouk) and
- the University of Leuven, Belgium (represented by Prof. Dr. Joachim Bretschneider, Faculty of Arts - Near Eastern Studies)
This first study season - in cooperation with the Université Catholique de Louvain (represented by Prof. Jan Tavernier) - was conducted between the 27th of December 2012 and the 12th of January 2013 and followed a primary visit of Prof. Joachim Bretschneider in 2011 and a first survey looking for early human activity by Prof. Philip Van Peer in 2012.
The project was five-fold:
1. A survey project in the Al-Ghat region looking for early human activity in the area.
2. The study of the textual and iconographical material incised on rocks.
3. Topographical documentation of some significant sites in the Al-Ghat region.
4. A didactic student program concerning the study of mud brick architecture in the old town of Al-Ghat.
5. Stratigraphical sounding in the old town of Al-Ghat.
This first joint Saudi-Belgian Mission confirms the archaeological, epigraphic and historic high potential of the Al-Ghat region. Concerning our research topics (survey for prehistoric material, textual and iconographical study) cutting edge science activities can be expected from further large scale research projects including surveys and landscape studies. The region of Inner Arabia can surely provide archaeological, epigraphic and iconographical data which will stand in the focus of the international scientific community.
Photos J. Bretschneider: Old North Arabian inscriptions and rock art at Jebel Markh (Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghat region).
Photo J. Bretschneider: Jebel Al-Samar (Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghat region): Middle Paleolithic Levallois core.
Photo J. Bretschneider: The high amount of Levallois cores and flakes on the Jebel Al-Samar confirms that the hill was used and intensively exploited by Middle Paleolithic hunter gatherers.
The team (starting right on top): Dr. Michel Debruyne, Wim Verhulst, Elynn Gorris, Greta Jans, Romy Heyrmans, Jaza Abdullah Al Harbi, Prof. Jan Tavernier, Dave Geerts, Nicolas Kress, Mohammed Ali Alsalouk and Prof. Joachim Bretschneider.