By RODOLFO C. ESTIMO JR. | ARAB NEWS
Published: Nov 7, 2010 22:58 Updated: Nov 7, 2010 22:58
RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) announced Sunday that Saudi archaeologists have discovered an ancient hieroglyphic inscription mentioning an Egyptian pharaoh on a rock near the ancient oasis of Tayma, Tabuk province.
The discovery, about 400 km north of Madinah and northeast of the ancient Nabatean site Madain Saleh, marks the first confirmed hieroglyphic inscription discovered in the Kingdom.
“The rock was bearing an inscription of King Ramses III, one of the kings who ruled ancient Egypt from 1192 B.C.to 1160 B.C.,” said SCTA Vice President for Antiquities and Museums Ali Ibrahim Al-Ghabban at a news conference on Sunday at the Commission on National Museum.
Al-Ghabban said the discovery was made in July. Since then researchers have posited that Tayma was on an important land route between the western coast of Arabia and the Nile Valley. Recent discoveries at the site prove Tayma was inhabited as far back as the Bronze Age (2,000 B.C.). The trade route has been used by caravans for centuries to carry goods such as incense, copper, gold and silver.
“The route connected the Nile Valley, Port Qulzum, the city of Suez, and then went by sea to Srabit near the port of Abu Zenima on the Gulf of Suez, where the archaeologists found a temple dedicated to King Ramses III, then across the Sinai Peninsula, where they also found several inscriptions similar to that found in Tayma,” said Al-Ghabban.
The land route passed through Aqaba, Jordan, where similar inscriptions have been discovered.
The find comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is working to implement a policy of promoting the country’s oft-ignored historical sites, especially pertaining to its pre-Islamic period.
Tayma is mentioned in ancient Assyrian texts dating back to the 8th century B.C. and referred to numerous times in the Hebrew Bible. Babylonian King Nabonidus spent 10 years in Tayma. His royal complex is currently being excavated. Last year a fragment of a cuneiform text mentioning Nabonidus was discovered there.
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