Landscape Archaeology, Palaeolithic Survey and Coastal Change Along the Southern Red Sea of Saudi Arabia

  • Anthony SinclairEmail author
  • Robyn H. Inglis
  • Andrew Shuttleworth
  • Frederick Foulds
  • Abdullah Alsharekh


Since 2012, a new phase of landscape survey for archaeological remains from the Palaeolithic has been undertaken in the provinces of Jizan and Asir in Southwestern Saudi Arabia. This is the first Palaeolithic landscape survey in this area since the Comprehensive Survey of the Kingdom undertaken between 1977 and 1982. More than 100 Palaeolithic sites have been identified from the Early Stone Age to the Late Stone Age, evidencing a regular association between archaeological remains and the Harrat deposits of basalt. The analysis of two major newly discovered sites, Dhahaban Quarry and Wadi Dabsa, has demonstrated the quality of archaeological and behavioural information that can still be recovered through landscape surveys in this region. At the site of Dhahaban Quarry, the survey has confirmed that Middle Stone Age lithic artefacts can be found in situ in the preserved beach deposits of ancient shorelines suggesting the use of marine resources. At Wadi Dabsa the technological study of a large assemblage of lithic artefacts suggests variations in expertise in lithic technology, and possibilities for understanding the process of learning the skills of lithic technology.



We thank HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and Dr. Ali Al-Ghabban, Vice-President, for granting permission for the archaeological fieldwork reported here (or on which this research is based) and for their ongoing support. We also thank the President of the Saudi Geological Survey, Dr. Zohair Nawab and his staff, in particular Dr. Najeeb Rasul, for additional support and for their invitation to participate in the Jeddah Workshop.

This work was supported between 2011 and 2015 by the European Research Council through ERC Advanced Grant 269586 ‘DISPERSE: Dynamic Landscapes, Coastal Environments and Human Dispersals’. Fieldwork from 2015 to 2017 was funded by grants from the British Academy (Arthur Reckitt Fund), the Gerald Averay Wainwright Fund for Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia, with additional funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 660343, “SURFACE: Human-Landscape-Interactions and Global Dispersals: The Surface Record of Palaeolithic Arabia”. This is DISPERSE contribution number 41.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Sinclair
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robyn H. Inglis
    • 2
    • 3
  • Andrew Shuttleworth
    • 4
  • Frederick Foulds
    • 5
  • Abdullah Alsharekh
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Archaeology, Classics and EgyptologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Queen’s UniversityBelfastUK
  5. 5.Northern Archaeological AssociatesBarnard CastleUK
  6. 6.Department of ArchaeologyKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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