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22 February 2009
Discoveries at ancient site in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi-German team of archeologists has discovered the 13 km-long remains of buildings during excavations at Tayma in northeastern Saudi Arabia. The team from the German Archeological Institute (GAI), which has an agreement with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) to continue excavations in Tayma for five years, is researching the relationship between the settlement at Tayma - which dates back to 3,000 BCE - and the civilizations of Sham, Egypt and Iraq. According to Dr. Ali Al-Ghaban, SCTA's vice president of antiquities and museums, the Saudi-German team has been working at Tayma for five years and has discovered new sections of the ancient wall of the town.
     "We are working hard with the commission to locate and excavate archeological sites," said Dr. Ricardo Eichmann, head of the Oriental Department at the GAI. "The Saudi- German team is researching the reasons behind changes in the settlements in Tayma and studying the economical and social conditions prevalent at the time. We are also working to prepare the site for visitors in accordance with the plans of the Saudi Commission of Tourism and Antiquities," he added.
     The Tayma archeological site is situated in a flat basin and is surrounded by several mountainous heights, such as the Jabal Ghunaym. North of the settlement is a large seasonal salt pan which was occupied by a lake thousands of years ago. The characteristic environment of the oasis is best represented by the Bir Hadaj well of some 18 m diameter in the city center and extended palm gardens. The rapidly growing modern settlement presently covers about one third of ancient Tayma, which has an estimated area of some 500 ha. The most visible remains of the ancient occupation are the high surrounding walls.
     Ancient Tayma was an important oasis and trade-station on the incense route and previous archeological excavations have encountered signs of occupation from the Middle Bronze Age (early 2nd millennium BCE) to the Islamic periods.

Source: Saudi Gazette (22 February 2009)

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