New Palaeolithic fieldwork in the Harrat Al Birk

Robyn Inglis led a highly successful three weeks of geoarchaeological survey in the Harrat Al Birk, Asir province, southwest Saudi Arabia. The survey, conducted in January with Fredrick Foulds and Andy Shuttleworth of Durham University, sought to survey the Red Sea coastline of the Harrat Al Birk lava fields for Palaeolithic artefacts in advance of rapid development of the coastline.

Over 20 locations were visited during 13 days of survey, with more than 1300 lithic artefacts found and recorded in different landscape settings, representing a significant expansion of our knowledge of the record of Palaeolithic occupation of the Harrat Al Birk by Homo erectus and H. sapiens populations. The team were joined in the field by Geoff Bailey, Muzna Bailey and Saud Al Ghamdi (King Saud University, Riyadh), as well as Saeed Al Karni (Director of Antiquities, Asir), Mohammed Abdullah, Saeed Abu Mater, Faia Asiri and Hassan Al Zhahrah of the Saudi Comisssion for Tourism and Antiquities in Asir, and Mohammed Al Halwi of the National Museum, Riyadh.

The fieldwork was funded by the Gerald Averay Wainwright Fund for Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Oxford, and the Department of Archaeology Research Fund, University of York.

Photo: January 2015 field team. Left to right: Mohammed Abdullah, Saeed Abu Mater, Andy Shuttleworth, Frederick Foulds, Robyn Inglis, Hassan Al Zhahrah, Geoff Bailey, Muzna Bailey. Not pictured: Saeed Al Karni, Faia Asiri, Mohammed Al Halwi and Saud Al Ghamdi.

The preliminary report on the fieldwork can be found on our field reports page.