Life-size camel carvings in Saudi Arabia originally thought to be 2,000 years old actually date back 8,000 years – making them almost TWICE the age of Stonehenge, new analysis reveals

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  • Ancient camel sculptures discovered in Saudi Arabia are nearly 8,000 years old
  • Originally believed to be 2,000 years old but new analysis revised estimates
  • Nearly twice the age of Stonehenge, where the stones were laid in 2500 BC
  • 21 camels, horses and other similar figures found in Saudi desert in 2018

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Life-size camel sculptures in Saudi Arabia that were originally believed to be 2,000 years old actually date back 8,000 years, new analysis has revealed.

The discovery makes them nearly twice the age of Britain’s Stonehenge, where the stones were placed in their unique enclosure around 2500 BC.

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It was previously estimated that the 21 camels, horses and other similar figures – found covered in stone in the Saudi desert in 2018 – were about 2,000 years old and made after the end of the Iron Age.

That’s because they share similarities with artifacts in the Jordanian ancient city of Petra, which was half-carved into the rock about two millennia ago.

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Although state-of-the-art dating methods revealed estimates to be 6,000 years old, the sculptures were likely dated to around 6000 BC, when the now arid deserts of northern Saudi Arabia’ a savanna-like meadow dotted with lakes and trees. The grounds’. .

Life-sized camel sculptures (pictured) in Saudi Arabia originally believed to be 2,000 years old actually date back 8,000 years, new analysis shows

It was previously estimated that the 21 camels, horses and other similar figures – found covered in stone in the Saudi desert in 2018 – were about 2,000 years old and made after the end of the Iron Age.

It was previously estimated that the 21 camels, horses and other similar figures – found covered in stone in the Saudi desert in 2018 – were about 2,000 years old and made after the end of the Iron Age.

The rock art is extremely hard to date, particularly at the 'Camel Site' (pictured) in Al Jawf province in north-west Saudi Arabia, where erosion has extensively damaged the three-dimensional relief

The rock art is extremely hard to date, particularly at the ‘Camel Site’ (pictured) in Al Jawf province in north-west Saudi Arabia, where erosion has extensively damaged the three-dimensional relief

History of Rock Art in Saudi Arabia

Human presence in the Arabian Peninsula dates back a million years.

Of the 4,000 registered archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia, 1,500 contain rock art. The earliest examples date back to about 12,000 years ago.

These depictions show dancing masked men and women, and experts believe they may be mythological figures, although the meaning is unclear.

Between ten and eight thousand years ago, people started rearing animals and doing primitive agriculture.

During this period, paintings increasingly show cattle and dogs.

Experts believe that these animals were domesticated and were part of their everyday lives.

Some include images of rare antelope, aurochs, wild camels and African donkeys, which were not previously known to live in the area.

Source: Bradshaw Foundation

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Rock art is extremely hard to date, particularly at the ‘Camel Site’ in Al Jawf province in north-west Saudi Arabia, where erosion has extensively damaged the three-dimensional relief.

To establish an age for the site, the scientists assessed tool marks and weathering on the sculptures, as well as the density of the fallen fragments and top layers of rock.

The data indicate that the sculptures were made with stone tools during the 6th millennium, a time when tribes raised cattle, sheep and goats.

Wild camels and equines also roamed the region and were hunted for millennia.

“We can now link the camel site to prehistoric times when pastoral populations of northern Arabia created rock art and large stone structures called mustattil,” said the study’s authors.

‘Camel sites are therefore part of a wider pattern of activity where groups often come together to establish and mark symbolic places.’

The research was a joint effort of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the French National Center for Scientific Research and King Saud University.

Similar carvings of three-dimensional relief on the faces of stone structures can be found in parts of Turkey but are rare in Saudi Arabia.

Researchers believe they were likely a communal effort, perhaps part of a Neolithic group’s annual gathering.

Carvings at the site and reconstructions of weathering processes show that it was in use for an extended period, during which the panels were re-carved and re-shaped.

State-of-the-art dating methods have shown estimates to be 6,000 years old, with the sculptures likely dated to around 6000 BC, when the now arid deserts of northern Saudi Arabia 'a savanna-like grassland scattered with lakes and trees' ' Were.

State-of-the-art dating methods have shown estimates to be 6,000 years old, with the sculptures likely dated to around 6000 BC, when the now arid deserts of northern Saudi Arabia ‘a savanna-like grassland scattered with lakes and trees’ ‘ Were.

To establish an age for the site (pictured) the scientists measured tool marks and weathering on the sculptures, as well as the fallen fragments and the density of the topmost layers of rock.

To establish an age for the site (pictured) the scientists measured tool marks and weathering on the sculptures, as well as the fallen fragments and the density of the topmost layers of rock.

The data indicate that the sculptures were made with stone tools during the 6th millennium, a time when tribes raised cattle, sheep and goats.

The data indicate that the sculptures were made with stone tools during the 6th millennium, a time when tribes raised cattle, sheep and goats.

Research at the Camel site (pictured) is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports

Research at the Camel site (pictured) is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports

By the end of the 6th millennium BC, if not all of the reliefs were inscribed, the Camel site reliefs make up the oldest surviving large-scale reliefs known in the world.

Study author Dr Maria Guagin, from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, said: ‘Neolithic communities returned to the camel site repeatedly, meaning that its symbolism and function were maintained for many generations.

‘Conservation of this site is now important, as is future research in this area to identify whether other such sites may exist.’

Researchers believe the carving was likely a communal effort, perhaps part of a Neolithic group's annual gathering.

Researchers believe the carving was likely a communal effort, perhaps part of a Neolithic group’s annual gathering.

Carvings at the site and reconstructions of weathering processes show that it was in use for an extended period, during which the panels were re-carved and re-shaped.

Carvings at the site and reconstructions of weathering processes show that it was in use for an extended period, during which the panels were re-carved and re-shaped.

By the end of the 6th millennium BC, if not all of the reliefs were made, the Camel site reliefs make up the oldest surviving large-scale reliefs known in the world.

By the end of the 6th millennium BC, if not all reliefs were made, the Camel site reliefs make up the oldest surviving large-scale reliefs…

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