Saudi Heritage Commission discovers Neolithic human settlement in Jabal Irf

Several artefacts found in the area date back to between 10,000 to 7,500 BC

Saudi Heritage Commission discovers Neolithic human settlement in Jabal Irf. Photo: SPA
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The Saudi Heritage Authority has announced the discovery of a site in Jabal Irf in the north-western region of Hail that was settled during the Neolithic period.

Jabal Irf is located in a lake basin in the Jubbah Oasis, north of Hail city.

The site has been confirmed to date back to the Neolithic period, which marks the beginning of agriculture and settlement, when humans moved away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and settled in communities.

Analysis of the settlement shows that humans used stone pestles and mills thought to have been utilised to prepare herbs and grind bones. The grinding tools are also believed to have been used to create pigments for coloured rock paintings commonly found in the northern region of the kingdom.

Several Neolithic artefacts have been found in Hail that date back to between 10,000 to 7,500 BC and indicate that the peak of human settlement at the site occurred during the sixth and early fifth millennia BC.

The Heritage Commission announced the discovery in co-operation with the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology, with researchers from the UK, Australia, the US, Italy and Saudi Arabia working on the project.

Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in preserving its history and culture through various events, projects and summits, including the World Archaeology Summit held in AlUla last month.

In 2021, the Heritage Commission announced the discovery of a petroglyph depicting Babylonian King Nabonidus that dates back to the mid-sixth century BC and gives further proof of the historical role of the Arabian Peninsula in the region.

The carving was discovered on a basalt rock and shows the Babylonian ruler holding a sceptre with religious symbols around him. About 26 lines of cuneiform script was also discovered, making it the longest ancient script found so far in the kingdom.

Many similar discoveries have been made in the framework of Vision 2030, a wide-ranging economic project launched in 2016 to diversify the country's economy that includes a focus on cultural preservation and tourism.

Updated: October 10, 2023, 6:55 AM