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  • Ahmed Saleh

Jeddah Historic District Program discovers 25,000 artifacts from 7th-8th centuries AD

Jeddah, February 04, 2024, The Jeddah Historic District Program, in collaboration with the Heritage Commission, has announced the finding of 25,000 fragments of artifacts dating from the first two centuries AH (7th to 8th centuries AD). This discovery, part of the Historic Jeddah Revival Project initiated by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, is a crucial step towards preserving national antiquities and archaeological sites, uncovering the rich history of the Kingdom, and promoting historic Jeddah as a cultural and tourist destination, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

The project, which commenced in January 2020 with exploratory studies and a geophysical survey, focused on uncovering the historical significance of key locations, including Othman bin Affan mosque, Al-Shona, a segment of the Northern Wall, and Al-Kidwah. The findings were unveiled as part of the Historic Jeddah Revival Project, reinforcing the commitment to the preservation and exploration of the region's historical treasures.

Archaeological surveys and excavations at these sites resulted in significant discoveries, including pottery shards, animal bones, shells, building materials, glass artifacts, and metal artifacts, collectively weighing 531 kg. Notably, ebony pillars traced back to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Island in the Indian Ocean were found near the Mihrab at Othman bin Affan Mosque, showcasing the extensive trade connections of historic Jeddah.

Excavations at Othman bin Affan Mosque also revealed a collection of ceramic vessels and fragments, including high-quality porcelain. Some pieces from the Chinese province of Jiangxi date back to the 16th-19th centuries AD, while older fragments hail from the Abbasid era.

Al-Shona, a site dating back at least to the 19th century AD, yielded various pottery shards, including porcelain and ceramic from Europe, Japan, and China, dating from the 19th to 20th centuries AD.

Al-Kidwah ("Bab Makkah" - Makkah gate) revealed parts of the Eastern Moat, likely dating back to the late 18th century AD.

In addition, tombstones made of Mangabi stone, marble, and granite were discovered at various locations within historic Jeddah, featuring inscriptions possibly dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AH (8th and 9th centuries AD).

The archaeological studies involved excavations, radiocarbon analysis, soil analyses, geophysical surveys, and scientific examination of artifacts. Wood samples from 52 buildings were sent to international laboratories for identification and dating. Extensive international archival research led to the collection of over 984 historical documents, including maps and drawings of historic Jeddah.

The Jeddah Historic District Program and the Heritage Commission collaborated to document, register, and preserve these archaeological artifacts. The discoveries have been listed in the National Archaeological Register, and scientific databases were created to safeguard the information related to the artifacts.

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