Leakey Board members visit Saudi Arabia

Leakey Board cropTwo Executive Board members of the Leakey Foundation, Mark Jordan and Matthew Kaser, recently joined the Palaeodeserts team in the field. Mark and Matthew were able to observe, first hand, the new field research that was taking place in Dawadmi where Acheulean sites were being investigated.

The team is grateful to the Leakey Foundation for their visit to our project site, as well as for their original funding of our project.

Whalen Archives received in Oxford

Whalen archive cropNorman Whalen led some of the most important archaeological surveys and excavations in Arabia in the 1980s and 1990s. Among his many accomplishments, he was the first professional archaeologist to excavate a Palaeolithic site in Saudi Arabia.

The Palaeodeserts team was fortunate to recently obtain Whalen’s archives from his former academic institution, Texas State University (USA). After review, examination and publication, the archives will be donated to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

Presentation at the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins

Dr Huw Groucutt, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, UKAt the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) at the University of Southampton, Huw Groucutt will give a presentation entitled “Empty desert or dispersal superhighway? The changing face of Quaternary Arabia” on March 28, 2014.

Survey and excavation of Acheulean sites in Dawadmi completed

Dawadmi dig cropThe Palaeodeserts field season in Dawadmi was highly successful, resulting in the identification of many new archaeological sites. Surveys by the team over a broad geographic area, extending over a distance of 150 kms, identified numerous Acheulean (Lower Palaeolithic) sites. These Acheulean sites contained characteristic tool forms, called handaxes and cleavers.
Acheulean sites were associated with rivers, indicating that hominins travelled along these water courses to reach the heart of Arabia. An Acheulean site excavated by Norman Whalen in the 1980s was re-visited, revealing a dense accumulation of stone artefacts at the base of a volcanic rock source. Here, stone tools were manufactured by the dozens to produce Acheulean implements.

Petraglia invited to Roads of Arabia exhibit in Houston

Houston - cropHRH Prince Sultan generously invited Professor Michael Petraglia to the opening of the ‘Roads of Arabia’ exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, in Houston, Texas (USA). The travelling exhibit displays some of Saudi Arabia’s most exquisite national treasures from key archaeological sites.

HRH Prince Sultan visits our field project in Dawadmi

Prince Sultan at Dawadmi - resize His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, recently visited our project in Dawadmi. Prince Sultan was able to see field excavations in progress. A highlight of the day was the Prince’s excavation of an Acheulean handaxe from the excavation trench.

Arabia – The Central, but Missing Link in World Prehistory

MBI lecture crop 1Prof Michael Petraglia will give a talk in March 2014 on recent discoveries that demonstrate that the Arabian Peninsula was a key geographic link between early human cultures in Africa and Asia.

Click here for more details.

Conference – Green Arabia

JubbahApril 2 – 4, 2014, hosted by the University of Oxford and the Palaeodeserts Project

Scholars and students from around the world will gather for 3 days of presentations and discussions covering the latest multidisciplinary research on the prehistory of the Arabian Peninsula and its role at the cross-roads of continents.

Conference announcement

Call for Posters

Conference registration

Conference flyer


Michael Petraglia

Abdullah Alsharekh

Huw Groucutt

Ash Parton

International Meeting in France

Fyssen Meeting - crop 1

The Fyssen Foundation sponsored meeting, “From Colonisation to Globalisation: Species Movements in Human History”, took place in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, on October 4-7.  Some twenty scholars from Australia, France, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA attended the meeting.  The meeting was interdisciplinary in scope, and included archaeologists, palaeontologists, geneticists, microbiologists, geographers and historians.  Dispersals on a regional and global scale were examined, time periods covered ranging from the earliest phases of human evolution right up to the contemporary world. The conference proceedings will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Conference participants (left to right): Michael Petraglia, Melinda Zeder, Bruce Smith, Genevieve Chertier, Robin Dennell, Terry Hunt, Margaret Lewis, Dorian Fuller, Monica Green, James Webb, Patrizia d’Ettore, Andrew Tatem, Geraldine Finlayson, Nick Drake, Clive Finlayson, Jon Erlandson, Marcus Hall, Greger Larson, Remy Crassard, Mark Achtman, Tim Denham, Nicole Boivin.

Rock art article featured on front cover of Antiquity journal

Antiquity front pageAn article written by Richard Jennings on the rock art landscapes beside the Jubbah palaeolake in Saudi Arabia features on the front cover of the September issue of Antiquity.

Richard’s co-authors on the paper were Ceri Shipton, Abdulaziz Al-Omari, Abdullah M. Alsharekh, Rémy Crassard, Huw Groucutt and Michael D. Petraglia. Click here to read the article.

The authors have undertaken a systematic survey of rock art and interpreted the results using GIS. They conclude that the overwhelming majority of prehistoric rock art sites overlook contemporary early Holocene palaeolakes, and that the distribution of later Thamudic rock art offers insights into human mobility patterns at Jubbah in the first millennium BC.