Archaeological exhibitions showcase Saudi heritage
Riyadh - Introducing Saudi cultural heritage and raising awareness among Saudi nationals about the role their country played in shaping the region’s history were at the core of a series of archaeological exhibitions organised in parallel with Saudi Arabia’s First National Antiquities Forum.
The programmes, established by the National Museum in Riyadh, feature artefacts and archaeological relics discovered in excavation sites across the kingdom.
“Each year joint Saudi and foreign exploration teams excavate rare historical objects from various sites, further supporting the belief that the Arabian Peninsula had a pivotal role in shaping the modern and contemporary history (of the region),” Mohamad Halwi, an archaeology expert at the National Museum in Riyadh, told daily Al Arab.
The exhibitions, which run through December 18, include the “Masterpieces of the Kingdom,” “Historical Photos Exhibition,” “Saudi Pioneering Archaeologists,” “Specialised Antiquities Book Fair,” “Recovered Antiquities Exhibition,” “Archaeological Discoveries Exhibition” and “Exhibition of Attention of Kings of the Kingdom on the National Heritage in collaboration with King Abdul Aziz Dara.” There is also a photo gallery on the renovation project of Al Hijaz railway station in Medina in collaboration with Al Turath, the Al Madinah charitable heritage foundation.
The “Archaeological Discoveries Exhibition,” featuring 44 recently unearthed historical objects, drew the largest interest from museum visitors, Halwi noted. He said new findings indicated that “the Arabian Peninsula had a central role in international trade due to its strategic location as a link between East Asia on one hand and Europe and the rest of the world on the other hand.”
Among artefacts displayed at the “Archaeological Discoveries Exhibition” were a medium-sized, cream-coloured chiselled clay jar, a small rounded partially broken pottery piece with colourful decoration, a bronze warrior tool and an engraved sandstone incense burner discovered at the Oum Dorg excavation site.
Also on display are bronze coins from Roman times, silver currencies of the Ottoman Empire from the early 19th century and a 56cm-long bronze sword found on the site of a tombs’ excavation in Ain Dalaa in al Kharg in 2013.
The exhibits have attracted large crowds, including Saudis, foreigners and nationals from Gulf countries enthusiastic to learn about the kingdom’s history and cultural heritage.
Abdel Aziz Salem, a Saudi university student, said learning about his country’s heritage conferred a sense of pride and self-confidence.
“We have a remarkable history. Saudi Arabia has witnessed important historical phases and contributed in the making of contemporary history. We should raise future generations to appreciate our cultural heritage and great history,” Salem told Al Arab.
Fahed al-Anzi, another visitor to the show, stressed the need to promote visiting national museums among Saudis.
“It is surprising to see our compatriots racing to visit museums abroad when they do not even think of going to museums at home. There is definitely a need to raise awareness about our cultural heritage and the treasures that we have,” Anzi said.