2,000-year-old camel carvings discovered in Saudi Arabia

2,000-year-old camel carvings discovered in Saudi Arabia
Rock art is a common archaeological find in Saudi Arabia, but the sunken reliefs used at 'Camel Site' is unique.
2 min read
15 February, 2018
One of the camel carvings discovered in Al Jawf province [CNRS/MADAJ, R. Schwerdtner]

Archaeologists have discovered 2,000-year-old life-size camel carvings in the northwestern Al Jawf province in Saudi Arabia.

The carvings were discovered by a joint Franco-Saudi research team, which identified about a dozen carvings, saying they were "unlike any others in the region".

Why these carvings were made in such a remote area remains unknown, but scientists speculate that the area's proximity to caravan routes suggest it could have served as a place of worship or boundary marker.

Engravings and paintings are the most common techniques found in Arabian rock art, making the latest discovery unique for its use of sunken reliefs. 

"Camel Site can now be considered a major showcase of Saudi rock art in a region especially propitious for archaeological discovery," said Guillaume Charloux, a research engineer at the Centre National de la Rcherche Scientifique (CNRS), the French team involved in the project.

"One scene in particular is unprecedented: it features a dromedary meeting a donkey, an animal rarely represented in rock art," he added.

Rock art is widespread in the kingdom. The Rock Art in the Ha'il region, which also depicts camels, is featured on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

Out of 4,000 registered archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia, 1,500 are examples of rock art.