Saudi’s First Archaeology Convention

As Saudi Arabia is gearing up for its new future, it makes sense to take this moment in time and delve into its past civilizations and learn how this knowledge can impact the rest of the years ahead.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) recently held the 1st Saudi Archaeology Convention last November 7-9, 2017 at the King Abdulaziz Historical Center and National Museum. HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President of the SCTH and a leading patron of Saudi Arabia’s history opened the ceremonies by noting:

“Archaeological explorations have been undertaken since the reign of the late King Abdulaziz, and have continued under all the subsequent Kings who all understood that our country is a land of great civilizations, where the religion of Islam and the Holy Qura’an came to light, and that our country is a place where the many of the world’s civilizations have intersected, and where the greatest message to mankind was received.”

The venue of the symposium.

This intersection of civilizations was represented by the various acrhaeologists and experts who arrived in Riyadh from countries like UK, Italy, France, Japan and China just to name a few. The three-day scientific program was held at the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Muraba. Across the Library was the National Museum, who consequently set up the Roads of Arabia exhibit in conjunction with this event.

The topic of technology was frequently spoken about, particularly the use of aerial digital surveying. Such means have been instrumental in mapping a detailed picture of old lakes and rivers that shaped the Arabian Peninsula. Also, a locally developed mobile application that provided historic pilgrimage routes and useful information about the history and culture of the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah was presented to the delegates during the event.

Dr. Idries Treavathan at the podium.

I managed to attend the last day of the scientific program and was able to catch the presentations of Dr. Idries Treavathan (Curating Islamic Art in Saudi Arabia) and Mr. Liu Shuguang (The Saudi Chinese Project in Serin). Dr. Idries spoke in detail about the study done in Saudi Arabia with regards to the interest people have in museums and what they would like to see in Saudi Arabian museums. Their studies showed that the majority prefers to learn more about the history of Islam and the Qur’an therefore, measures have been explored on how to curate substantial pieces for succeeding exhibits or museums in the region.

Mr. Liu Shuguang speaking about the Serin Project.

Meanwhile, Mr. Liu Shuguang spoke about the partnership of Saudi Arabia with the Chinese government in what is known as the Serin Project. He presented some discoveries from an excavated maritime warship where in ancient relics were found to be exactly alike with relics found from ancient Arabia. Fascinating!

After the talks, I went to the National Museum to have a look at the Roads of Arabia exhibit and there were some interesting relics that caught my eye. Here they are:

The Roads of Arabia exhibit starts off with these statues on dsiplay.

Reading about the archaeological treasures of the Kingdom.

Remnants of the Al Magar civilization.

Old inscriptions in Al Hasa dialect.

Looks like the strongest finger made it. 

Al-‘Ula relics.

One of the centerpieces of the exhibit is this “State of a Man” from Al-‘Ula.

Camel figurine from the 3rd century AD!

Figurine of camel with jars, also from the 3rd century AD.

A gold mask/armor where the design of the exhibit was based on.

The National Museum is hosting 50 days of free entrance (starting last November 7) to the public along with a display of cultural, social and artistic shows in their courtyard. For more details, you may visit their website:

National Museum

Al Murraba, King Abdulaziz Historical Center

Tel: 011-402-9500

Location Map:


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The Communications Editor loves rock n' roll, food trips and is a self-proclaimed, arbiter of taste.

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