Saudi Heritage Commission Discovers Treasures in North Red Sea

Published February 25th, 2022 - 06:20 GMT
Saudi Heritage Commission Discovers Treasures in North Red Sea
A Saudi archaeological mission has discovered hundreds of antique pieces that were part of a sunken ship in the Red Sea, just off the coast of Haql, in the Kingdom’s northwest.

A Saudi archaeological mission has discovered hundreds of antique pieces that were part of a sunken ship in the Red Sea, just off the coast of Haql, in the Kingdom’s northwest.

According to a statement issued by the Saudi Heritage Commission, an archaeological mission led by five Saudi divers located the wreck of the sunken ship, and “the survey was documented by a set of three-dimensional photographs and the identification of the area containing these sunken antiquities.”

Initial reports indicate that the ship may have had a collision with coral reefs that led to the scattering of its parts and the fall of its cargo. According to a statement by the commission, the evidence revealed that the ship’s voyage dated back to the late 18th century, which indicated that most of the pottery pieces that were found were of the “Amphora” type manufactured in the cities of the Mediterranean basin.

The survey and excavation work for sunken antiquities in the waters of the Red Sea is being conducted by the commission in cooperation with international universities and research centers. The survey work resulted in the discovery of more than 50 sunken shipwrecks sites along the Red Sea that vary in their historical and archaeological value and periods.

Hussein Al-Khalifa, an archeology expert, said that the antiquities gave answers to many questions about the ship. Their archaeological haul includes navigational tools, indicating when the ship sank.

Hussein Al-Khalifa, former director general of tourism and antiquities in Al-Jawf, said that the discoveries should indicate the ship’s history, its manufacture and the identities of the people on board. He said this information could be uncovered through their personal belongings, the currencies used, the reason for the ship’s sinking, and whether it was heading to the coast of Haql, as well as “indications of international trade relations.”

“In cooperation with several local universities and international missions, they are working on studying the site, identifying the size and history of the archaeological remains, verifying the presence of ship remains at the site, and comparing them with previous research and studies, provided that the results of those research are announced immediately upon completion,” Al-Khalifa told Arab News.

A joint Saudi-Italian mission in 2015-2016 found a sunken shipwreck at a site near the city of Umluj with part of the ship’s planks made of oak and pine. It also contained a collection of Chinese porcelain pottery bowls and cups, in addition to broken glass bottles. They also found metal bowls dating back to the middle of the 18th century.

A joint Saudi-German team to survey the submerged heritage sites on the west coast, which ran its field work from 2012 until 2017, found the remains of a Roman shipwreck in the Red Sea. So far, it is the oldest wreck of an archaeological ship found along the Saudi coast. The team also discovered another shipwreck dating back to the first Islamic era, in an area between Rabigh and Shuaiba.


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