Saudi Arabia discovers 25,000 artefact fragments from seventh century

Find highlights Jeddah's historic trade connections with China and Sri Lanka

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About 25,000 fragments of artefacts dating back to the era of the Islamic caliphates have been discovered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Jeddah Historic District Programme, along with Saudi Arabia's Heritage Commission, announced the discovery dating from the first two centuries of the Islamic Hijri calendar - from the seventh to eighth centuries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The announcement of the archaeological discoveries is part of the efforts of the Historic Jeddah Revival Programme started by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The project started in January 2020 with exploratory studies and a geophysical survey that aimed to unveil the historical significance of four crucial locations: Othman bin Affan mosque, Al Shona, a segment of the Northern Wall, and Al Kidwah.

Archaeological investigation at Othman bin Affan mosque revealed artefacts dating back to the first two centuries (7th to 8th centuries) and spanning different periods.

Ebony pillars found near the mihrab were traced back to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), highlighting the extensive trade connections of the city.

The archaeological survey and excavations yielded significant findings, including 11,405 pottery shards weighing 293kg, 11,360 animal bones measured at 107kg, 1,730 shells at 32kg, 685 building materials weighing 87kg, 187 glass artefacts weighing 5kg, and 71 metal artefacts at 7kg.

Excavations at the same site also unveiled a collection of ceramic vessels and fragments, including high-quality porcelain.

Some pieces were made in the Chinese province of Jiangxi and date back to between the 16th and 19th centuries, while older pottery fragments were from the Abbasid era.

The archaeological site at Al Shona, dating back at least to the 19th century, has yielded numerous pottery shards, including porcelain and ceramic from Europe, Japan, and China, dating from the 19th to 20th centuries.

Excavations at Al Kidwah (Bab Makkah – Makkah gate) revealed parts of the Eastern Moat, which most likely date back to the late 18th century.

Tombstones made of Mangabi stone, marble, and granite were found at different locations within historic Jeddah.

These tombstones contain inscriptions of names, epitaphs, and Quranic verses, potentially dating back to the second and third centuries.

The archaeological studies at the four historical sites involved excavations, radiocarbon analysis, soil analyses, geophysical surveys and scientific examination of artefacts.

Wood samples from 52 buildings were sent to international laboratories for identification and dating.

Updated: February 05, 2024, 6:58 AM