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The art of rock relief in ancient Arabia: new evidence from the Jawf Province

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2018

Guillaume Charloux*
CNRS—UMR 8167, Orient et Méditerranée, 27 rue Paul Bert, 94204 Ivry-sur-Seine, France
Hussain al-Khalifah
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Directorate of the Jawf Province, King Fahad Street, Sakaka, Saudi Arabia
Thamer al-Malki
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Researcher Effects and Museums, PO Box 66680, Riyadh 11586, Saudi Arabia
Romain Mensan
CNRS—UMR 5608 TRACES, Université Toulouse—Jean Jaurès, 5 allée Antonio Machado, 31058 Toulouse cedex 9, France
Ronald Schwerdtner
Independent researcher, Herbéviller, France
*Author for correspondence (Email:


The relative scarcity of ancient Arabian rock reliefs has been a significant barrier to understanding the development, function and socio-cultural context of such art. The recently discovered ‘Camel Site’ in northern Arabia depicts, for the first time, life-sized camelids and equids carved in low- and high-relief. Analysis and stylistic comparison of the art suggest a distinct Arabian tradition, which perhaps drew upon Nabataean and Parthian influences. That this isolated and seemingly uninhabitable site attracted highly skilled rock-carvers is striking testimony to its importance for surrounding populations. Perhaps serving as a boundary marker or a place of veneration, the Camel Site offers important new evidence for the evolution of Arabian rock art.

Antiquity , Volume 92 , Issue 361 , February 2018 , pp. 165 - 182
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2018 

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