SAUDI ARABIA

Archaeologists uncover Neolithic settlement insights with standing stone circles

July 09, 2024
The team excavating two spaces within a single Standing Stone Circle. In the background you can see the walls of neighbouring dwellings. (Supplied)
The team excavating two spaces within a single Standing Stone Circle. In the background you can see the walls of neighbouring dwellings. (Supplied)

ALULA — An international team, sponsored by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), has revealed groundbreaking findings on the long-term occupation sites in north-west Arabia during the Neolithic period.

They have analyzed unique dwellings known as Standing Stone Circles, shedding new light on the region’s settled lifestyle during the 6th and 5th millennia BCE.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed Levant journal on 2 July, led by University of Sydney archaeologist Jane McMahon, unveils these structures—double rows of upright stone slabs forming circles 4 to 8 meters in diameter, possibly supporting roofs made of animal skins. The team examined 431 such circles in AlUla County's Harrat Uwayrid, with 11 excavated in-depth and 52 surveyed.

Jane McMahon remarked, "This study challenges assumptions about early north-west Arabian life. These weren’t just pastoralists; they had distinct architecture, domestic animals, and a surprising array of artifacts. The scale of these circles suggests a larger population than previously thought."

Rebecca Foote of RCU highlighted, "Our sponsorship aims to deepen our understanding of the region’s Neolithic past. This research reveals how these communities lived and interacted, offering a glimpse into their daily lives and cultural exchanges."

The findings include diverse animal remains indicating a mixed economy, arrowheads linking to Jordan, and shells suggesting coastal connections. This study marks a significant leap in understanding early civilizations in the region. — SG


July 09, 2024
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