Investigating the palaeolithic landscapes and archaeology of the Jizan and Asir regions, south-western Saudi Arabia

Robyn Inglis, Anthony Sinclair, Andrew Shuttleworth, Abdullah Alsharekh, Maud Devès, Saud Al Ghamdi, Matthew Meredith-Williams, Geoff Bailey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The archaeology of the Arabian Peninsula is pivotal to understanding the timing and mode of dispersals of hominin populations from Africa, with growing evidence supporting a 'Southern Route' across the Hanish Sill in the southern Red Sea. Yet despite recent key discoveries, our understanding of the hominin occupation of the Peninsula remains patchy. This situation is particularly marked in coastal south-western Saudi Arabia, a key region in dispersal debates given its proximity to the proposed Southern Route. Identification of the routes and conditions of hominin dispersals from Africa has focused on reconstructing broad-scale climatic and vegetation zones. Yet physical landscapes are also critical to palaeoenvironmental reconstruction at the local scale. They can moderate or amplify climatic influence, and modify the distribution of plant and animal resources. The DISPERSE project aims to develop systematic methods for reconstructing Palaeolithic landscapes on a variety of geographical scales, and their impact on patterns of human evolution and dispersal. This paper reports the preliminary results of archaeological and geomorphological survey carried out in February-March 2013 in the and Asir regions, south-western Saudi Arabia. Satellite imagery was used to identify areas of potential preservation and visibility of Palaeolithic sites, as well as key geomorphological features to inform landscape reconstruction. ESA, MSA, and potentially later artefacts were recorded at a number of locations and geographical settings in the region. These sites are placed within the developing model of landscape evolution, and preliminary hypotheses of hominin landscape use and technological aspects are outlined. These hypotheses will be tested through future survey seasons, ultimately allowing assessment of the factors controlling human occupation and dispersal.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies Volume 44 2014
Subtitle of host publicationPapers from the forty-seventh meeting, London, 26-28 July 2013
EditorsRobert G. Hoyland, Sarah Morris
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781905739806
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event47th Meeting of the Seminar for Arabian Studies - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jul 201328 Jul 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies
ISSN (Print)0308-8421


Conference47th Meeting of the Seminar for Arabian Studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Dispersals
  • Geomorphology
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Palaeoenvironment
  • Palaeolithic


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