Saudi Arabia History and Archaeology

History. – In December 1960, according to Behealthybytomorrow, Prince Faiṣal renounced the powers delegated to him by his brother Sa’ūd, but re-established them in 1962 and, continuously, from mid-1963. In November 1964 Sa’ūd was deposed for incapacity (he died in Athens in 1969) and Faiṣal was recognized as king. Attempts at revolt prevented in June and September 1969 (in reality there were only reports of arrests) revealed the existence, under the apparent calm, of an opposition; the question was raised again by the killing of the king (25 March 1975) by one of his nephews, but the situation seemed to be firmly controlled by Faiṣal’s successor, his brother Khāled.

In the internal field, the action of the government headed by Faiṣal continued the cautious but constant modernization and development of the country’s resources with extensive use of foreign experts and companies; particular attention was paid to education, communications, agriculture and industrialization, in the search for alternative sources of income to that provided by oil. Active was the foreign policy, aimed at the affirmation of Islamic and Arab solidarity, open to collaboration with the West, but jealous of the security of the Kingdom and its borders. In this sense, there were numerous interventions especially in neighboring countries against movements considered subversive, such as in Yemen in support of the realists against the authors of the 1962 coup and the consequent tension with the Egypt supporting them. Despite an agreement reached in Jeddah in August 1965, the Yemeni dispute was resolved only in 1970 with the recognition of the republic. Also noteworthy is the diplomatic action carried out in the Arab (or Persian) Gulf, both with agreements with Persia and by advocating a federation of sheikhdoms and Arab emirates in order to guarantee their defense after the withdrawal of British forces.

In the field of Islamic solidarity there were numerous Saudi initiatives; particular emphasis was given to the conference held in Rabāṭ in August 1969 to condemn the fire that took place in the al-Aqṣà mosque in Jerusalem. It was probably the emotion aroused by that event that pushed Faiṣal to an even greater commitment, for the liberation of the Islamic holy places that fell into Israeli hands, in the international field with a policy aimed at ensuring by all means, up to the embargo of the supplies of oil advocated and implemented in 1973, supports the Arab cause, in the Arab field by providing means and financing and promoting collaboration between Arab states and between them and the Palestinian resistance movement.

Archaeology. – After the Belgian expedition which in 1951 crossed almost all of the Saudi Arabia, the only important expedition was the Canadian one which in 1962 traveled the northern part of the country. At the eastern end of this, in the province of al-Ḥasa overlooking the Persian Gulf immediately S of Kuwait, some research has been conducted by Americans in the locality of Thag, where a necropolis had previously been excavated (which had remained in use since bronze age up to the Islamic period).

The most important results of all the latest expeditions concern the epigraphic sector (pre-Islamic Arabic dialects, Mineo, Nabataean; to a much lesser extent Aramaic and Haseo); the approximately 10,000 inscriptions of the Belgian mission are still unpublished, but their publication will certainly not change the picture of North Arabian epigraphy, very poor in data with the exception of onomastic ones.

Much more interesting, but also much more uncertain, are the results achieved with the study of a part of the rock graffiti collected by the Belgians. E. Anati believed to be able to identify up to now various ethnic groups who lived in the peninsula between the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, at the level of hunters and breeders of cattle and sheep; the presence of a Aethiopis population ( ‘oval head’) from the 3rd to 1st millennium BC not only arises as a fact totally unexpected, but also allows to explain some biblical data (the presence of Cushites in Saudi: Gen. 10.6-12) and linguistic facts such as the South-Semitic element in a North-Semitic language such as Arabic.

The numismatic analysis made it possible to identify a political organism, the kingdom of Hagar, in the Saudi Arabia northern between the 3rd and 2nd century BC; this had commercial and political relations with the al-Ḥasa region and in particular with the city of Gerrha.

Saudi Arabia History and Archaeology