First Saudi-Belgian Research Campaign in the Al-Ghat
Region

with the participation of two IAP partners (the KU
Leuven and
the Université Catholique de
Louvain)

The
research in the Al-Ghat region – an area with a very rich history located in
the Alhamada valley in North Central Saudi Arabia – was inspired by the
Abdulrahman Al-Sudairy Foundation and His Excellency Marc Vinck, the Belgian
ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

The
project works under the aegis of the following institutions:


the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh (represented by Mr.
Mohammed Ali Alsalouk) and


the University of Leuven, Belgium (represented by Prof. Dr. Joachim
Bretschneider, Faculty of Arts – Near Eastern Studies)

This
first study season Рin cooperation with the Université Catholique de Louvain
(represented by Prof. Jan Tavernier) – was conducted between the 27th of
December 2012 and the 12th of January 2013 and followed a primary visit of
Prof. Joachim Bretschneider in 2011 and a first survey looking for early human
activity by Prof. Philip Van Peer in 2012.

The
project was five-fold:

1. A
survey project in the Al-Ghat region looking for early human activity in the
area.

2.
The study of the textual and iconographical material incised on rocks.

3.
Topographical documentation of some significant sites in the Al-Ghat region.

4. A
didactic student program concerning the study of mud brick architecture in the
old town of Al-Ghat.

5.
Stratigraphical sounding in the old town of Al-Ghat.

Results:

This
first joint Saudi-Belgian Mission confirms the archaeological, epigraphic and
historic high potential of the Al-Ghat region. Concerning our research topics
(survey for prehistoric material, textual and iconographical study) cutting edge science activities can be expected from further
large scale research projects including surveys and landscape studies. The
region of Inner Arabia can surely provide archaeological, epigraphic and
iconographical data which will stand in the focus of the international
scientific community.

Photos J. Bretschneider: Old North Arabian inscriptions and rock art at Jebel
Markh (Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghat region).

Photo J. Bretschneider: Jebel Al-Samar (Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghat region): Middle
Paleolithic Levallois core.

Photo J. Bretschneider: The high amount of Levallois cores and flakes on the Jebel Al-Samar confirms
that the hill was used and intensively exploited by Middle Paleolithic hunter
gatherers.

The team (starting right on top): Dr. Michel Debruyne,
Wim Verhulst, Elynn Gorris, Greta Jans, Romy Heyrmans, Jaza Abdullah Al Harbi, Prof.
Jan Tavernier, Dave Geerts, Nicolas Kress, Mohammed Ali Alsalouk and Prof.
Joachim Bretschneider.