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History & Heritage


The oldest animal sculptures in the world are found in Saudi Arabia!

In the north of Saudi Arabia, and discovered for the first time in 2018, the research around the monumental sculptures of the Camel Site marks a new archaeological success! Dating back to prehistoric times, they are now officially recognised as the oldest remaining large-scale animal reliefs in the world.

Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the recent study has already made the rounds! Not without reason, because while the first Franco-Saudi team that discovered the site believed that these life-size relief sculptures of a dozen dromedaries and donkeys dated back to Antiquity, further studies, led by a trio of archaeologists from the CNRS, the Max Planck Institute and King Saud University 2, now date the sculptures back to prehistoric times.

If these works date back more than 7,000 years, this means that these mysterious sculptures are older than internationally known sites such as the 4,500-year-old pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge in England.

And to complete their research, the teams needed a wide range of skills and methods for direct and indirect dating, from analysing tool marks to rock erosion. 

This is consistent with measurements of the areal density of manganese and iron in the rock varnish. The site was probably used over a longer period of time and the reliefs were reworked as erosion began to obscure the details. By 1000 BC, erosion was sufficiently advanced to cause the first panels to fall off, in a process that continues to this day” the study said. 

Another nice discovery for the archaeological world

See also

The Abu Dhabi Louvre acquires one of the most famous sculptures in the world

Published on 17 September 2021