News Release

Discovering the prehistoric monuments of Arabia

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Discovery in the Oasis of Dûmat Al-Jandal (Northern Saudi Arabia)

image: The platform during excavation. view more 

Credit: © MADAJ

In contrast to the prehistoric remains of the Near East, the megalithic monuments of Arabia remain largely unknown. These monumental structures, made of dry stone walls, still hold many secrets in terms of their construction, function and chronology. An international collaboration (1) of scientists from France, Saudi Arabia and Italy (2), led by Olivia Munoz, a researcher at the CNRS, have discovered a 35-metre long triangular platform in the oasis of Dûmat al-Jandal (northern Saudi Arabia). Built in several phases from the 6th millennium BC, this exceptional monument was probably dedicated to ritual practices, some of which were probably funerary and commemorative. To arrive at these conclusions, scientists studied and dated the objects and human remains from deposits found in and around the platform - in the two side niches and also in nearby tombs. These discoveries, which appear in the journal Antiquity on June 9th, 2020, demonstrate a ritual use during Prehistory, and are a potentially symbolic imprint left by nomadic pastoralists in the landscape during this remote period.

(1) The excavations were carried out within the framework of the Italian-French-Saudi archaeological mission in Dûmat al-Jandal (MADAJ), co-directed by Guillaume Charloux of the Orient and Mediterranean laboratory (CNRS/ Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/Sorbonne Université/Collège de France/EPHE) and Romolo Loreto (Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"). (2) This work involved the following teams:

* "Archéologies et sciences de l'Antiquité" laboratory (CNRS/Université de Paris Nanterre/Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/Ministère de la Culture)

* Department for Near Eastern Antiquities, Louvre Museum

* Orient and Mediterranean laboratory (CNRS/Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/Sorbonne Université/Collège de France/EPHE)

* "Archéozoologie, archéobotanique : sociétés, pratiques et environnements" laboratory (CNRS/MNHN)

* "Centre français de recherche de la péninsule arabique" (CNRS/Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères), formerly known as "Centre français d'archéologie et de sciences sociales"

* archaeological mission "Oasis de l'Arabie déserte" (Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères)

* LabEx RESMED (ANR-10-LABX-72)

* Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage


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