Protection urged for ancient engravings

Caused by vandalism

Published on 21 May 2011

Author(s): Saudi Gazette/ABDUL AZIZ MA?AFA

Type:  News

Officials say that rocks bearing engravings from ancient periods have been subject to repeated vandalism and theft by groups of illegal immigrants in the region of Dhamd.

Hassan Al-Habibi, an official from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, said that “persons without legal identities” in Wadi Dhamd had broken rocks in their attempts to remove them and stolen others bearing engravings in the South Arabian musnad script.

“Some examples have been taken from their sites,” Al-Habibi said. “Others have been damaged and broken.” He said that his office had asked for the sites to be given greater protection.

“We have carried out a survey of archeological sites and pieces in the region to register them and identify the coordinates of their locations so they can go on the list of designated sites of tourist interest,” he said.

“Some of the sites are significant in that they lie on the ancient pilgrim caravan route, what’s known as the ‘Pilgrim Path’. We are asking for greater attention to be given to them as they are an invaluable cultural treasure.”

Muhammad Haydar, an expert in archeological sites, said that he recently came across a group of persons of “African origin” camping out near a site of engraved rocks.

“When I approached them they fled, leaving behind their bags and digging tools,” he said. “Among their possessions were photographs of archeological sites that had been dug up and vandalized.”

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