First results of the 2020 and 2021 seasons of the Saudi-French Archaeological and Epigraphic Mission to Najrān in the area of Ḥimā (Najrān, Saudi Arabia)


  • Silvia Lischi University of Pisa
  • Jérôme-F. Haquet CNRS, UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée
  • Yamandú H. Hilbert Paleoanthropology, Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, Institute of Archaeological Sciences, University of Tübingen
  • Alessia Prioletta CNRS, UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée


Saudi Arabia, Southern Arabian Peninsula, Ḥimā, Archaeological survey, Remote Sensing


Since 2007, the Saudi-French Archaeological and Epigraphic Mission to Najrān (MAFSN) has been surveying the area of Ḥimā (north-east of Najrān); during these explorations, thousands of graffiti and rock art sites were recorded. In the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the MAFSN launched systematic archaeological surveys, test-pits and small-scale excavations, with particular attention to the structures scattered throughout the plain and near the rocky outcrops. Here we report on the results of both these fieldwork seasons with a preliminary typology of the archaeological structures and a collection of an array of archaeological materials. This is the first outcome of a wider and medium-term project that aims to draw a complete archaeological map of the area by combining field and remote sensing data collection methods. Additionally, survey activities aiming at the identification of prehistoric sites around the Ḥimā region were conducted and yielded a small number of prehistoric lithic scatters. Based on the technological and typological characteristics of the finds, an attribution to the earliest human occupations of the area, namely Lower and Middle Palaeolithic, is suggested. The spatial distribution of the archaeological structures will be compared with that of the rock carvings to identify possible correlations and to study the history of the human settlement in the Ḥimā region during the historical times up to the first centuries of Islam.


Amirkhanov, H.A., 2018. The Middle Acheulian site Meshhed III in Wadi Douan (Republic of Yemen) 44, 7–17.

Anati, E., 1974. Rock-art in Central Arabia / 4 Corpus of the rock engravings, P. 3 & 4, Rock-art in Central Arabia. Institut Orientaliste, Louvain.

Anati, E., 1972. Rock-art in Central Arabia / 3 Corpus of the rock engravings, P. 1 & 2, Rock-art in Central Arabia. Institut Orientaliste, Louvain.

Anati, E., 1968. Rock-art in Central Arabia. Institut Orientaliste, Louvain.

Arbach, M., Charloux, G., Dridi, H., Gajda, I., Âl Murih, S., Robin, C.J., Al-Sa’Îd, S., Schiettecatte, J., Tayran, S., 2015. Results of four seasons of survey in the Province of Najrān (Saudi Arabia) – 2007-2010, in: Gerlach, I. (Ed.), South Arabia and Its Neighbours. Phenomena of Intercultural Contacts. Proceedings of the 14th Rencontres Sabéennes, Archäologische Berichte Aus Dem Yemen, XIV. Reichert Verlag, pp. 11–46.

Banks, R., Fradley, M., Schiettecatte, J. & Zerbini, A. 2017. An integrated approach to surveying the archaeological landscapes of Yemen. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 47 (2017): 9–24.

Bretzke, K., 2015. Paleolithic Assemblages from the Central Region of the Emirate of Sharjah (UAE) and Implications for Human Settlement Dynamics in Southern Arabia, in: Conard, E.N.J., Delagnes, A. (Eds.), Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age, Volume IV, Tübingen Publications in Prehistory. Kerns Verlag, Tübingen, pp. 105–125.

Covington, Richard, 2011, Roads of Arabia. Saudi Aramco World (March/April 2011), pp. 23-24.

Crassard, R., Petraglia, M.D., Drake, N.A., Breeze, P., Gratuze, B., Alsharekh, A., Arbach, M., Groucutt, H.S., Khalidi, L., Michelsen, N., Robin, C.J., Schiettecatte, J., 2013. Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic Occupations around Mundafan Palaeolake, Saudi Arabia: Implications for Climate Change and Human Dispersals. PLoS ONE 8, e69665.

Crassard, R., Hitgen, H., 2007. From Sāfer to Bālhāf-Rescue Excavations along the Yemen LNG Pipeline Route. In Proceedings for the Seminar for Arabian Studies: 37, pp. 1-17.

Crassard, R., Hilbert, Y.H., 2020. Lower and Middle Paleolithic sites from the Rufa Graben, central Saudi Arabia, in: Bretzke, K., Crassard, R., Hilbert, Yamandú H. (Eds.), Stone Tools of Prehistoric Arabia, Supplement to Volume 50 of the Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. Archaeopress, Oxford, pp. 43–65.

de Maigret, A., 1984. A Bronze Age for Southern Arabia. East and West 34, 75–106.

Hilbert, Y.H., Crassard, R., 2020. Middle and Late Pleistocene lithic technology from the region of Dûmat al-Jandal, northern Saudi Arabia, in: Bretzke, K., Crassard, R., Hilbert, Y.H. (Eds.), Stone Tools of Prehistoric Arabia: Papers from the Special Session of the Seminar for Arabian Studies held in July 2019 in Leiden. Archaeopress, Oxford, pp. 27–42.

Jamme, A., 1966. Sabaean and Hasaean Inscriptions from Saudi Arabia. Rome.

Jamme, A., 1965. Research on Sabean Rock Inscriptions from South.western Saudi Arabia. Washington.

Kabawi, A., et al., 1996. Comprehensive rock art and epigraphic survey, Southern Region, Wadi Dawasir. Atlal 14, 55–72.

Kawatoko, M., Tokunaga, R., Iizuka, M., 2005. Ancient and Islamic Rock Inscriptions of Southwest Saudi Arabia I. Wādī Khushayba. The Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan and Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo.

Kennedy, D.L. & Bishop, M. 2011. Google Earth and the archaeology of Saudi Arabia. A case study from the Jeddah area. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 1284–1293.

McCorriston, J., Steimer-Herbet, T., Harrower, M., Williams, K., Saliège, J-F., Bin ‘Aqil, A., 2011. Gazetteer of Small-Scale Monuments in Prehistoric Ḥaḑramawt, Yemen: a Radiocarbon Chronology from the RASA-AHSD Project-Research 1996-2008. In Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy: 22, pp. 1-22

McCorriston, J., Harrower, M., Steimer-Herbet, T., Williams, K. D., Senn, M., AL Hadhari, M., Al Kathiri, M., Al Kathiri A., Saliège J-F., Everhart, J., 2012. Monuments and Landscape of Mobile Pastoralist in Dhofar: the Arabian Human Social Dynamics (AHSD) Project, 2009-2011. In Journal of Oman Studies: 12, pp. 117-144.

Myers, A., 2010. Field Work in the age of Digital Reproduction: a review of the potentials and limitation of Google Earth for Archaeologists. The SAA Archaeological Record 10/4: 7–11.

Newton, L.S., Zarins, J., 2000. Aspects of Bronze Age art of southern Arabia: The pictorial landscape and its relation to economic and socio-political status. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 11, 154–179.

Robin, C., Al-Ghabban, A. b. I., Fāyiz Al-Sa’īd, S., 2014. Inscriptions antiques de la région de Najrān (Arabie Séoudite méridionale): nouveaux jalons pour l’histoire de l’écriture, de la langue et du calendrier arabes. Crai 158, 1033–1128.

Rose, J.I., Petraglia, M.D., 2009. Tracking the origin and evolution of human populations in Arabia, in: Petraglia, M.D., Rose, J.I. (Eds.), The Evolution of Human Populations in Arabia. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 1–12.

Ryckmans, J., 1981. Al-Ukhdud: The Philby-Ryckmans-Lippens Expedition of 1951. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 11, 55–63.

Ryckmans, J., 1953. Inscriptions historiques sabéennes de l’Arabie centrale. Le Muséon 66, 319–342.

Shipton, C., Parton, A., Breeze, P., Jennings, R., Groucutt, H.S., White, T.S., Drake, N., Crassard, R., Alsharekh, A., Petraglia, M.D., 2014. Large Flake Acheulean in the Nefud desert of northern Arabia. PaleoAnthropology 446–462.

Steimer-Herbet, T., 1999. Jabal Ruwaik: megaliths in Yemen. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 29, 179–182.

Steimer-Herbet, T., 2004. Classification des sépultures à superstructure lithique dans le Levant et l’Arabie occidentale: IVe et IIIe millénaires avant J.-C., BAR international series. Archaeopress, Oxford, England.

Steimer-Herbet, T., Davtian, G., Braemer, F., 2006. Pastoralists’ Tomb and Settlement Patterns in Wādī Wash’ah during the Bronze Age (Ḥaḑramawt, Yemen). In Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies: 36, pp. 1-9

Whalen, N.M., Zoboroski, M., Schubert, K., 2002. The Lower Palaeolithic in Southwestern Oman. Adumatu 27–34.

Thomas, D.C., Kidd F.J., Nikolovscki, S. & Zipfel, C. 2008. The Archaeological Sites of Afghanistan in Google Earth. Aerial Archaeology Research Group 37: 22–30.

Zarins, J., al-Jawarad Murad, A., al-Yish, K.S., 1981a. The Comprehensive Archaeological Survey, a. The Second Preliminary Report on the South-western Province. Atlal 5, 9–37.

Zarins, J., Kabawi, A., Murad, A., 1983. Preliminary Report on the Najran/Ukhdûd Survey and Excavations 1982-1402 H. Atlal 7, 22–40.

Zarins, J., Murad, A., al-Yaish, Kh., 1981b. The Second Preliminary Report on the Southwestern Province. Atlal 5, 9–42.



How to Cite

Lischi, S., Haquet, J.-F. ., Hilbert, Y. H. ., & Prioletta, A. (2023). First results of the 2020 and 2021 seasons of the Saudi-French Archaeological and Epigraphic Mission to Najrān in the area of Ḥimā (Najrān, Saudi Arabia). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 52, 237–253. Retrieved from

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >> 

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.