In the stunning mountains south of Riyadh, in a region called Al Kharj, lies recently discovered sites dating back to the Paleolithic period. The discovery of these 100-000-year-old sites – the first to have been found from that period in Al Kharj – was made by a joint Saudi-French mission carried out under the supervision of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.
The Paleolithic period, also known as the Old Stone Age, is the earliest period of human development and the longest phase of humankind's history. According to Encyclopedia.com, this key period is said to have begun about 2 million years ago and ended in various places between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago. A main feature of this period is the original development of stone tools that covers most of human technological prehistory.
The joint mission in Al Kharj, which saw the participation of 18 scientists and specialists from Saudi Arabia and France, was carried out within the framework of an agreement signed between the two parties on September 21, 2011, to explore the archaeological sites in Al Kharj. According to a report by the Saudi Press Agency, the delegation’s field survey included the mountains surrounding Al Kharj overlooking Wadi Nisah and mountains overlooking the town of Al Shadida.
Amongst discoveries made in these areas are the remains of broken pottery, some plain and some painted green, and bracelets made of stained glass colored in yellow, red and blue, as reported by Al Arabiya English. Also uncovered at the site of Ain Dalea located in southern Al Kharj was evidence of early human settlement dating back 5,000 years, such as 56-centimeter long bronze sword.
The group of specialists also uncovered a number of ancient farms and architectural structures dating back to the fifth century AH. On these structures, a number of Arabic inscriptions without punctuation have been identified, making them the oldest Islamic writing found in the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.
Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, who is the President for Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), as well as the first Arab, first Muslim, and the first member of royalty to travel to space, received the delegation at the commission’s headquarters in Riyadh, expressing appreciation for the team’s efforts and stressing the importance of preparing the site to receive visitors.