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Prehistoric Arabia

In 2010, a camel herder digging for water unearthed a menagerie of stone animals, including an ostrich, sheep, goat, bovine and desert hunting dog (saluki) buried in the sands of the southwestern site of al-Magar.
The largest and most intriguing piece resembled a horse or wild ass. Archaeologists have interpreted fine markings around the muzzle and a ridge down the shoulder as parts of an early bridle. Based on several tools also unearthed at the site, some archaeologists believe the animal forms may date back to 7000 BCE—potentially revising the date of the domestication of the horse from the previous estimate (3500 BCE in Central Asia).

Roads of Arabia features these stone animals and other prehistoric weapons, sculptures, and tools, some of which date back more than a million years. The show also features three human-shaped steles that are among the earliest known artifacts from the Arabian Peninsula. Scholars propose they were associated with religious or burial practices, but whatever their use, these figures, with stylized forms and powerful expressions, possess an arresting immediacy that transcends time and distance.

New insights into humankind’s prehistoric roots have been revealed by the objects unearthed from the Arabian Peninsula—displayed for the first time on the West Coast as a part of Roads of Arabia.