First Saudi Archaeology Convention

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConference participation


Developing Geoarchaeological Approaches to Understanding and Curating Palaeolithic Landscapes in Saudi Arabia
Robyn Inglis

Located at a key crossroads of global dispersals, and with a proven but little-studied record of Palaeolithic occupation, Southwestern Saudi Arabia possesses a surface record key to understanding the conditions of Pleistocene dispersals out of Africa. How different Homo species (H. erectus, H. sapiens), utilised their landscapes, and subsequent implications for their abilities to disperse from Africa is poorly understood. Added to this, interpretation of past hominin landscape use from present-day artefact distributions is not straightforward. Distributions are the sum of varying behaviours over time, while landscape evolution alters the distribution and availability of resources linked to these behaviours (e.g. water, raw materials), and the differential preservation and visibility of archaeological evidence. Only by developing a robust, well-dated model of landscape evolution, and detailed recording of surface artefacts in relation to the geomorphological units comprising the landscape, coupled with theoretical paradigms that engage with the variable time depth of surface assemblages, can the potential of this record for informing on past hominin landscape interactions be realised.
The SURFACE project (2016-18) continues the work of the UK-Saudi team working in southwestern Saudi Arabia, and brings together an interdisciplinary, international team that combine approaches from archaeology, geomorphology and remote sensing to develop novel approaches to the analysis of the distribution of surface artefacts in the Jizan and Asir regions. This paper will present the current results of the project, and will consider these findings in light of wider debates surrounding human-landscape interactions in Palaeolithic Arabia and their implications for global dispersal of hominin populations. In addition, it will address issues of the protection of the Palaeolithic artefact record in its landscapes context in a region where the rapid pace of development has already destroyed key landscape features and the archaeology associated with them.
Period7 Nov 20179 Nov 2017
Event typeConference
Conference number1
LocationRiyadh, Saudi ArabiaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational