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Archeological site in Saudi Arabia

Digging in the desert

Postponed, new date coming soon
Discover the prehistory of Saudi Arabia with Dr Hugh Thomas as he reveals the tantalising view of life and death in the region discovered through recent archaeological fieldwork.

For the past three and a half years, a team from University of Western Australia’s Classics and Ancient History Discipline has been undertaking archaeological fieldwork in the hinterland of the desert oasis towns of AlUla and Khaybar, Saudi Arabia. Most of the 20,000 km2 hinterland surrounding AlUla is relatively inaccessible but the isolated and dramatic landscapes surrounding the town are filled with spectacular archaeological remains. This project is one of several being conducted on behalf of the Royal Commission for AlUla, in a broad ranging directive designed to develop the region around AlUla, and to document and preserve its rich archaeological and cultural heritage.

Through a combination of remote sensing, helicopter aerial survey, and ground survey, the team has documented over 20,000 archaeological sites ranging in date from the Palaeolithic through to the present. More recently, targeted excavations have been undertaken, some of the first in the region by a foreign archaeological team. The results of these excavations provide a tantalising view of life and death in the region in antiquity and have revealed the existence of a thriving prehistoric occupational landscape.

This lecture will focus on some of the key findings of the project, which combines traditional archaeological techniques with exciting modern technology such as 3D modelling and UAV’s.


Dr Hugh Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and the Director of the Aerial Archaeology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia projects. He received his PhD in Classical Archaeology from The University of Sydney in 2013. His research interests include the archaeology of death and burial and digital applications in archaeology. He has published widely on the prehistory of north-western Arabia, death and burial in the Classical world, digital recording, remote sensing and 3D modelling of archaeological sites.

Event details

This event has been postponed, new date coming soon