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JEDDAH: New research sheds light on the origins and evolution of a series of ‘desert kites’ (ancient stone-built hunting traps) in AlUla.

Sponsored by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), the study reveals fascinating evidence of the innovative and collaborative methods that local people used thousands of years ago to hunt wild animals.

According to an article published by Journal of Archeological Sciencesthe stone traps were named by pilots who flew over the area in the 1920s and noticed that their shape resembled that of a children’s kite with streamers.

According with the doctor. Remy Crassard, an expert on desert kites, these traps are among the largest structures of their time, with the oldest examples being found south of Jordan and dating back to 7000 BC. vs.

While the exact age of these newly discovered traps in northwestern Arabia is still being calculated, they appear to span the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age (5000 – 2000 BC). .

Dr. Crassard, who is affiliated with the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and serves as co-director of the Khaybar Long-Term Archaeological Project, sponsored by RCU and its strategic partner Afalula (the French Agency for the Development of AlUla), estimates that there are about 6,500 kites in the area. This number is increasing compared to the 700 to 800 sites known twenty years ago.

During his research in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Armenia and Kazakhstan, Dr. Crassard and his team determined that the kites were used specifically for hunting wild animals, rather than herding.

The development of these massive traps had a dramatic impact on the landscape, he explains, as they would have forced migratory animals such as gazelles to change their routes and could even have been responsible for the extinction of certain species. .

In Saudi Arabia, research by a team from the University of Western Australia and sponsored by RCU discovered 207 kites in AlUla and in the vicinity of the extinct volcano Harrat Uwayrid.

Most kites in the region are made up of low stone walls designed to lure prey into a trap, such as a well or a cliff. While there are different shapes of kites, the findings by the Australian team, led by Rebecca Repper, were mostly ‘V’ shaped.

The main lines of AlUla kites are about 200 meters long, but similar structures in other regions stretch for kilometers. According to the researchers, its location suggests that hunters had extensive knowledge of the animals’ movements.

According to the doctor. Rebecca Foote, Director of Research in Archeology and Cultural Heritage at RCU, these studies contribute to a better understanding of the rich cultural heritage of the peoples of Northwest Arabia.

“Recent studies build on our earlier findings from the Neolithic period in the region, including the construction of large-scale ritual structures,” she says.

“Under the sponsorship of the RCU, and as we head into the autumn season, we look forward to many more insightful discoveries in cooperation with international teams from Saudi Arabia, France, Australia, Germany and other countries.”

These collaborations are part of RCU’s project to establish a global center for archaeological research and conservation in AlUla. At the heart of this project is the Institute of Kingdoms, located among the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Dadan in northern Arabia and dedicated to the study of the history and prehistory of the Arabian Peninsula.

Dr. Ingrid Périssé Valéro, Director of Archeology and Heritage at Afalula, says the newly discovered kites at AlUla and Khaybar offer important insights into their origins and development. This is a turning point in the history of human evolution and man’s relationship with the natural environment.

This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com

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