|© Mohammed Yahia|
Excavations in a new archaeological site in the southwestern Asir province in Saudi Arabia may reveal that horse domestication in Saudi Arabia, started 9,000 years ago – challenging previous theories that the practice started in the Arabian Peninsula 5,550 years ago only.
“This discovery will change our knowledge concerning the domestication of horses and the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period,” Ali al-Ghabban, vice-chairman of the Department of Museums and Antiquities told reporters in a press conference in Jeddah.
The newly discovered civilization was named al-Maqari, after the site’s location, reports Reuters.
The archaeologists also unearthed several mummies and statues of animals, including a one-metre high bust of a horse.
“A statue of an animal of this dimension, dating back to that time, has never been found anywhere in the world,” said Ghabban, according to Discovery News.
They also found arrowheads, scrapers, grain grinders, tools for spinning and weaving, and other tools that are evidence of a civilization that is skilled in handicrafts.
“The Maqar Civilization is a very advanced civilization of the Neolithic period. This site shows us clearly, the roots of the domestication of horses 9,000 years ago,” Ghabban told reporters at the press conference.
During the time when the al-Maqari civilization lived in the valley where the excavation site was found, the area was much less arid than it is today and the civilization was probably based near a riverbed on fertile grounds, according to the researchers.