Southwest part of Kingdom contains evidence from various periods, starting from Paleolithic age until Islamic times
Striking image dating back more than 4,000 years is still a source of mystery
MAKKAH: Rock drawings in Saudi Arabia — long considered crucial sources for the study of ancient civilizations in the Arabian Peninsula — are gaining increasing attention as more are found in unlikely locations across the Kingdom.
The drawings represent the first pillars of writing. Their study reflects the changes and developments in the Arabian Peninsula’s history and cultures, and how ancient humans dealt with the environment.
A drawing featuring a carved illustration of two women in the southern Saudi city of Najran — one adorned with jewelry and ornaments, and the other dancing next to a man carrying a spear on his waist — has raised many questions about the location, significance and period of its creation.
Salma Hawsawi, a professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News that the most ancient rock drawings in the Arabian Peninsula date back 7,000 years and are found mostly on ancient trade routes. “The rock drawing includes inscriptions written in the Thamudic script used firstly in the eighth century B.C. and the Ancient South Arabian script used firstly in writings in the middle of the second millennium B.C. In some archaeological studies in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. and, most recently, in the sixth century A.D.,” she said.
Hawsawi said that “the use of two types of scripts on the drawing has several meanings, one of which suggests that ancient humans’ knowledge of several scripts reflects the interaction between communities since it has been known that the Thamudic script originated in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and expanded afterward to most of its regions, noting that the diversity of literature in the region is a testimony of the civilizational progression.”
The region was one of the most important stops for trade convoys heading from the south of the Arabian Peninsula to the north and vice versa, she added.
The drawing also features a man holding three spears, two in his right hand and one in his left, a dagger on his waist, and a pendant for ornamentation purposes or with other religious significances. The spears and dagger symbolize power, or preparations to fight a battle and confront an enemy.
According to Hawsawi, the human form in the rock drawing looks like the god “Kahl” of Al-Faw village, located in the center of the Arabian Peninsula, on a trade route from the south.