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Evidence of Ancient Human Life Found in Giant ‘Lava Tube’ Near Madinah

Archaeologist found human remains, as well as stone artefacts made from fine-grained green obsidian.

Scene Now Saudi

Evidence of Ancient Human Life Found in Giant ‘Lava Tube’ Near Madinah

Evidence of ancient human life has been found in a giant ‘lava tube’ cave in Saudi Arabia’s Harrat Khaybar lava field, around 125 kilometres north of Madinah, marking the first discovery of its kind in one of the Kingdom’s many caves recorded across northern Arabia.

The find is credited to a team of archaeologists who began to search these subterranean locations in 2019, and after five years of looking, evidence of human life has been found in the Umm Jirsan lava tube. The tube was formed by cooling lava millions of years ago, winding 1.5 kilometres underground, and reaching measurements of 12 metres by 45 metres in height and width at its largest.

Amongst the discoveries in the cave were ancient human remains dated to between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago, as well as stone artefacts, all made from fine-grained green obsidian. Another huge find is the discovery of the first rock art in the area, which includes depictions of herding scenes of cattle, sheep, and goats, and even hunting scenes involving dogs. The art bears resemblance to other art found in the Arab Peninsula from the Neolithic and later Bronze Age.

The team was even able to ascertain details on the diets of the humans, analysing the carbon and nitrogen in their remains. The findings show high quantities of protein, transitioning to more fruits and cereals over time. Analysis suggests that this change may coincide with the arrival of oasis agriculture in the region, bringing with it the cultivation of plants such as dates and figs.