Home > World News > An open museum of rock art in Saudi Arabia. What is the importance of registering the “Hama” site on the World Heritage List?

An open museum of rock art in Saudi Arabia. What is the importance of registering the “Hama” site on the World Heritage List?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is rich in a civilized, cultural and historical heritage, confirming its role in human civilization, where many of the world’s civilizations intersect.

The archeological and cultural heritage sites of Saudi Arabia are a testament to the involvement of the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula in building culture and human civilization, and its openness to other civilizations, in addition to its role in trade between the continents of the world through the ages.

Saudi Arabia recently succeeded in registering the “Hama Cultural District” in Najran, on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as a cultural site with exceptional universal value for human heritage.

Hama Cultural District contains 550 rock art paintings that contain hundreds of thousands of rock carvings and drawings.Credit: Saudi Ministry of Culture

In an interview with CNN in Arabic, the CEO of the Heritage Authority in Saudi Arabia, Jasir Al-Harbash, revealed the importance of registering the Hima cultural site on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the most prominent archaeological discoveries related to civilization on the Arabian Peninsula over the years.

Hema cultural district in Saudi Arabia
Hima rock art and carvings represent an invaluable source for written, artistic, historical and even ethnographic documentation of climate change during the current period.Credit: SPA

Al-Harbish pointed out that the Hima Cultural Site, recently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the largest open-air museums of rock art and covers an area of ​​more than 500 square kilometers in the Najran region.

Hema cultural district in Saudi Arabia
Hema cultural district is one of the largest rock art complexes in the worldCredit: Saudi Ministry of Culture

Hima’s cultural area contains several elements, the most important of which are rock art, which includes about 550 stone paintings, including hundreds of thousands of stone inscriptions. These inscriptions express civilizations that are no less than 5,000 years old, al-Harbash said.

Hema cultural district in Saudi Arabia
One of the stone paintings in Hema culture districtCredit: SPA

It also includes the Hima area with ancient wells, which were associated with trade routes, and is one of the important factors that helped strengthen the registration file for the Hama cultural area.

Hema cultural district in Saudi Arabia
One of the wells in the Hema cultural areaCredit: Saudi Ministry of Culture

Al-Harbash pointed out that the preparation of the file for the registration of the Hema cultural area began three years ago, in a way that meets the conditions of the World Heritage Committee, and achieved the so-called “exceptional universal value”. The construction of the file also required ensuring that the site “will be protected and treated as a World Heritage Site” according to the war.

Al-Harbash notes that the Hima site is the sixth Saudi site to be listed on the World Heritage List, along with the listed Al-Hijr site (2008), the Al-Turaif district in historic Diriyah (2010), the historic Jeddah (2014), the rock art sites in the Hail region (2015), then Al-Ahsa Oasis (2018).

Hema cultural district in Saudi Arabia
It includes the fever area of ​​the old wells, which was connected to trade routesCredit: Saudi Ministry of Culture

Al-Harbash believes that World Heritage Listing provides standards, controls and guidelines that help manage the archaeological site and ensure that it will be restored in the future in a manner consistent with UNESCO standards.

Al-Harbash explained that registration on the World Heritage Site, ie the “UNESCO effect”, increases the competitiveness of the cultural tourism route, when tourists search for places that are registered on the World Heritage List.

Hema cultural district in Saudi Arabia
One of the wells in the cultural area Hema in Saudi Arabia Credit: Saudi Ministry of Culture

Al-Harbash pointed out that the increase in the number of Saudi sites listed on the World Heritage List is an important performance indicator.

Al-Harbash pointed out that eight objects are registered in the list of intangible cultural heritage, which is an important item, as it ensures their protection and development, such as the art of “Al-Qatt Al-Asiri”, which is the traditional decorative art as before used by women in the Asir region, and it adorns the house walls in the Asir region. Hundreds of years ago.

Regarding the most prominent archaeological finds, Al-Harbash stated that a year ago the Commission uncovered one of the most important discoveries in Saudi Arabia, a site indicating the path of the ancient man through the discovery of human traces in northwestern Saudi Arabia, and this has been proven by internal and external research efforts that they are human traces. It is 120,000 years old and is historically associated with the march of ancient people from Africa to the heart of Asia.

Al-Harbash said the authority is documenting stone installations, a phenomenon that exists worldwide, but is widely present in the kingdom.

The stone structures can be seen aboard a low-flying aircraft in various regions of the kingdom, such as the Al-Kharj Governorate, which has the shape of triangles, squares and circles.

Al-Harbash mentioned that the age of the artificial structures, which are artificial, goes back thousands of years and gives an indication of the existence of civilizations in these areas, which raises questions about the nature of their use.

At the beginning of the excavation season in Saudi Arabia, Al-Harbash pointed out that there are many distinct rock art in the country, including an archaeological inscription of King Ramses III, discovered in the Tabuk region, by a Saudi researcher several years ago.

The inscription of King Ramses III is among the excellent inscriptions that prove the connection between the civilization of the Arabian Peninsula and the Pharaonic civilization.

This inscription dates back to 1100 BC, and this estimate is linked to careful deep historical studies, in addition to scientific research and carbon dioxide research of the inscription, according to Al-Harbash.

Al-Harbash also pointed out the importance of the written civilization, which provides writings that can be chronicled and transformed into a brief history of previous civilizations.

Al-Harbash explained that the Heritage Authority is working on the Rock Art Center project, which aims to provide an open blog related to inscriptions and rock art, giving any researcher or hobbyist the opportunity to search for rock art in Saudi Arabia from any civilization.


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